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(Ben Margot)
(Ben Margot)

Usual Suspects

TSN catches March Madness Add to ...

The TSN/Rogers Sportsnet turf war has chalked up another victim.

TSN announced Thursday it has grabbed the Canadian broadcast rights to the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association men's basketball tournament from The Score. It will show games on both TSN and TSN2 starting March 17.

In addition to the 68-team March Madness tournament, TSN will also produce original studio shows along with live cut-ins to games. Expect newly-signed analyst Dan Shulman to have a role.

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It's a bitter loss for The Score, which had clung to the tournament as a centrepiece franchise even as its other properties disappeared. While its sports apps continue to perform strongly for the network, The Score's TV channel is a mixed bag of NBA, Italian soccer, mixed martial arts and horse racing. As well, The Score has lost several recognizable on-camera assets, including Cabral Richards to CTV and Steve Kouleas to TSN.

The Score had no comment Thursday, beyond noting that TSN's acquisition ties in with "a larger global rights deal between the NCAA and [U.S. all-sports cable network]ESPN" (which owns a piece of TSN).

TRADE WINDS

Maybe what NHL trade deadline day needs is comedian Jeff Foxworthy: "If you get up at 6 a.m. Pacific time to see if Zenon Konopka brings a conditional third-round draft pick in a trade, you might be … a trade geek."

Apparently there are trade geeks in sufficient numbers and webpage views to justify the 10-hour orgy of BlackBerry surfing that constitutes trade deadline day on TSN and Sportsnet.



This year's pressing issue is not Konopka's whereabouts or a soft landing spot for Nikolay Zherdev but whether all the good trades will be made before the geeks get their trade freak on on Monday. How will TSN and Sportsnet, locked in mortal ratings combat, fill 10 hours of panels, pundits and herd mentality if the Tomas Kaberles and Erik Johnsons are already traded?

"As I suggested on my Twitter account, we're working on dance numbers," TSN hockey host James Duthie says. "It will be the most disturbing Glee episode ever."

But seriously folks …

"They'll be lots of trades," Duthie says. "Just no guarantee they'll be good ones. Last year, we did 12 minutes of panel on Andrew Alberts [traded to the Vancouver Canucks from the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round choice]"

Over at Sportsnet, host Daren Millard has a musical idea how the Hockeycentral rabble will wile away the hours between Sheldon Souray rumours. "Karaoke. [Hockey analyst Nick Kypreos]loves that '70s tune Brandy."

At least it's not Mandy.

"Honestly, our show is built to be entertaining even if there is not a trade," Millard says. "Of course, we require some movement to give it jolts of viewer interest."

The CBC's live coverage starts at 9 a.m. (EST) on CBCSports.ca, specialty channel bold, and HNIC Sirius Radio channels 97 and 127. Online coverage hosted by Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman includes streaming to iPads and iPhones.

WORLD TOUR

About 20 years ago, Greg Norman suggested starting a golf tour with the top 30 players travelling the world in big events.

The Shark was verbally crucified by the golf establishment as self-centred and greedy. But as the world's top-ranked players gathered for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship this weekend, the concept of a world tour is back.

Rory McIlroy tweeted Thursday: "Anyone think a world tour like they have in tennis would be good for golf? I think it would be great for the game."

So far, no one has rushed to toss McIlroy into the nearest water hazard. In fact, the consolidation of top names begun by Tiger Woods's past dominance of tournaments and TV ratings is well under way.

While PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem fights manfully to preserve the integrity of his U.S.-based operation, TV types are envisioning a tour that stretches from Dubai to Pebble Beach.

Potentially bad news for the Canadian Open, but great news for golf fans.







 

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