Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL properties, has resigned from Rogers Communications Inc.
He was the last of the three executives who together landed the biggest broadcast deal in Canadian television history to leave the company. In the fall of 2013, Moore, former Rogers chief executive Nadir Mohamed and Keith Pelley, then Rogers Media president, won the national broadcast rights for the NHL over BCE Inc., and its CTV and TSN networks for a total of $5.2-billion over 12 years. The deal also meant the iconic Hockey Night In Canada show was no longer under the control of the CBC for the first time in 62 years.
Mohamed stepped down a few months after the deal was announced in November, 2013. Pelley left in the spring of 2015 to run the PGA’s European Tour. Moore will leave at the end of October, just short of eight years in his role as Sportsnet president.
Moore, 56, began discussing his departure from the company “a few months ago” in order to take a break and look for a new venture.
“If you look at my history, the longest I’ve been at a job other than this one is six years,” Moore said Tuesday. “Ironically, that was also Sportsnet [as head of production]. We’ve accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to accomplish. We got [Sportsnet] to number one [in Canada’s sports-television networks], which is what I said I would do when I got in here on the first of December, 2010.”
The NHL deal did not go well in its first two years, as the ratings declined sharply because of the poor performances of the seven Canadian teams, particularly the Toronto Maple Leafs. There was also much unhappiness from television viewers because Pelley and Moore replaced Hockey Night In Canada’s long-time host Ron MacLean with George Stroumboulopoulos and brought a more high-tech look to the show.
The ratings troubles combined with viewer unrest saw Stroumboulopoulos fired after the second season and the return of MacLean as host. When the play of the Canadian teams improved in years three and four, so did the ratings.
Now, on the eve of the fifth season of the deal, both the Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets are serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. The Calgary Flames are also much improved and the Edmonton Oilers are expected to have a better season as well, which bodes well for the number of viewers.
When Mohamed, Moore and Pelley made their long-shot play (BCE was thought to have the inside track) for the NHL rights, their main goal was to have Sportsnet surpass TSN as the top sports network in Canada. With the ratings gains in the third year thanks to the Maple Leafs finally becoming a playoff team combined with the unexpected success of Rogers’s other main property, the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, Sportsnet began to beat TSN consistently in the average monthly ratings for the first time since it was formed in 1998.
“Somebody asked me recently for a résumé. I looked at it and it said I specialized in startups and turnarounds,” Moore said. “Sportsnet is neither of those things any more. It’s a mature business, it’s a successful business and I feel good about leaving it in the condition it is in.”
Rogers Media president Rick Brace will assume Moore’s duties while a search for a successor is conducted.
“Scott’s passion and commitment to sports are unparalleled. He has cultivated a winning team, which continues to deliver the best and most innovative sports coverage and experiences to fans across the country,” Brace said in a statement released by Rogers Media. “After leading Sportsnet to [number one] as the top sports media brand in the country, Scott leaves behind a strong legacy.”
Moore, who came to Sportsnet in 2010 after being head of both CBC Sports and its advertising department, said his immediate plans are to relax and travel.
“The one thing about this job, I love it, but it’s every night, it’s every weekend, it’s constant,” he said. “My wife [Becky] and I are going to take six weeks in Australia and enjoy life for a little bit, clear my head and do other things.”
After that, Moore hopes to land with a new media company or one that needs some help.
“I’m just looking for the next build,” he said. “If you look out in the world there’s a ton of new businesses and a ton of interesting things happening in the media business.”