Hockey Night in Canada to become Hockey Weekend in Canada?

Hockey Night in Canada to become Hockey Weekend in Canada?

(Image: Dan Heap) (Image: Dan Heap)
 

When Rogers announced that it had bought the rights to all of Canada’s NHL broadcasts, it was immediately clear that the prognosis for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada wasn’t going to be great. Under the deal, Rogers gets complete creative and financial control of the iconic show, meaning it could make big changes without consulting the CBC. And now it’s becoming apparent that the telecommunications giant is even planning on introducing some competition into the mix: a second hockey night.

From day one, we knew that Rogers would have the option of airing exclusive national hockey games on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, but the Globe has dug up some information to suggest that Sunday night is the real focus, at least for the moment. “There’s definitely a plan with Rogers to introduce that next year,” NHL chief operating officer John Collins told the paper. “It’s going to be one of the national nights.”

There are few known details about what a Rogers-produced, Sunday-night marquee hockey game would be like—we’re not even sure what channel it would be on—but it’s not unreasonable to expect a slick, expensive production. Rogers will want a return on its $5.2 billion, 12-year investment, and that means luring advertisers, and lots of them. A second night of nationally broadcast hockey won’t necessarily cannibalize Hockey Night in Canada‘s ratings, but it will almost certainly diminish the 61-year-old show’s cultural significance. People aren’t going to tune in just to see Don Cherry‘s suits.