Bell Media has gained fresh ground in the battle for TV rights to sports events in Canada, with a 10-year deal to broadcast Winnipeg Jets games.
The deal, announced Wednesday, gives the company rights to more than 60 regular and preseason NHL games each year, which it will broadcast on a regional companion channel to the main network, called TSN Jets, launching Sept. 20 in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. (Its existing relationship with the NHL gives it rights to five more games, to be broadcast on the national feed.)
Bell Media also won rights to live Jets play-by-play radio coverage on its Sports Radio 1290 station in Winnipeg.
The agreement is a boon for Bell Media as the hockey season gears up and the highly-anticipated return of the Jets approaches. Media executives, including Bell Media president Kevin Crull, have noted that sports broadcast rights are growing more expensive and the battles among broadcasters to lock up those rights are becoming more fierce.
"The return of the Winnipeg Jets has been the biggest story in hockey in Canada this year," Phil King, president of programming and sports for CTV, said in a statement. "Bell Media's television and radio platforms will work together to cover all aspects of the Jets over the next decade."
Bell Media parent BCE Inc. and part of the Jets ownership share other media interests. The Jets are partly owned by Thomson Reuters chairman David Thomson, who holds a stake in team owner True North Sports and Entertainment.
The Thomson family's holding company, Woodbridge Co. Ltd., owns 85 per cent of The Globe and Mail, with BCE owning the rest. BCE bought the TV assets of CTVglobemedia – including TSN – from Woodbridge and other owners nearly one year ago.