Could Hockey Night in Canada soon be cancelled forever?

Could Hockey Night in Canada soon be cancelled forever?

Corporate branding on display at a Maple Leafs game (Image: jbcurio) 

Once the CBC’s current contract with the National Hockey League expires in 2014, Hockey Night in Canada could be over, according to the Financial Post. The paper reports that the CBC, facing $115 million in funding cuts, likely won’t have the financial might to compete with Rogers Communications (which owns Sportsnet) and Bell Media (which owns CTV and TSN) for NHL broadcasting rights. On the other hand, Kirstine Stewart, the chief of the CBC’s English services, says that the public broadcaster will find a way to broker a deal because it brings hockey to general audiences, not just the sports-obsessed. In the May issue of Toronto Life, Stewart tells Jason McBride, ”We help establish hockey…when you put hockey on a sports channel only, you’re preaching to the converted.” Though there’s still a possibility the CBC could secure national broadcast rights, which are controlled by the league, future regional rights for Toronto Maple Leafs games are firmly in Rogers’ and Bell’s hands. Toronto sports fans will remember that Rogers and Bell recently banded together to buy a controlling stake in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment—which means that the two companies will divvy up the Leafs broadcasts between them like some kind of corporate version of a fantasy draft. [Financial Post]