Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System played a dirty trick on Canadian baseball fans this week.
Immediately before the start of the postseason, Turner launched a new TBS channel in the United States. The old TBS Superstation was renamed Peachtree TV and given new programming.
That threw a spanner into the viewing plans of some Canadians. TBS, you see, owns exclusive rights to baseball's divisional playoffs.
The problem is, the only Turner channel licensed to air in this country is the old TBS, now called Peachtree TV. And its schedule no longer includes baseball.
Some Canadian viewers actually made a point of subscribing to the old TBS this week, assuming they would be getting the playoff telecasts. Instead, the schedule consists of old sitcoms.
Rogers Sportsnet is picking up the baseball telecasts, but some purists would have preferred to watch the clean TBS feed without the updates inserted by Sportsnet.
For example, on Wednesday, the baseball studio spots were dropped by Sportsnet to make room for NHL scores and highlights.
Cable and satellite companies in this country cannot pick up the new TBS because the channel doesn't have a licence and won't for several months.
The addition of Mike Milbury gives TSN its most entertaining hockey studio panel in years. In his debut on Wednesday, Milbury was confident, hard-hitting and occasionally funny.
He called the Toronto Maple Leafs' decision to start Andrew Raycroft, despite paying heavily in the off-season to acquire Vesa Toskala, "absolutely crazy," adding it will "plant seeds of doubt" in Toskala.
Glenn Healy, who will switch off with Pierre McGuire on the panel, correctly cited Raycroft's generally mediocre 2006-07 campaign, particularly weak goals late in the game.
As it turned out, a softy cost the Leafs the game.
On another subject, insider Bob McKenzie challenged Milbury and Healy by asserting that a player some day will get killed in a fight.
"That would be a problem," Milbury said .
Hockey Night launch
Viewers will get their first look at the new Hockey Night in Canada tomorrow night.
Instead of setting up on-site in Canadian NHL arenas, host Ron MacLean and the commentators - pregame personalities as well as Don Cherry and the Satellite Hot Stove panel - will work out of a new studio at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto.
And, instead of using sportswriters, the Hot Stove will consist, for the most part, of former players and league officials.
On Saturday, Scott Mellanby, who wrapped up a 21-year NHL career last season, will debut with Colin Campbell, the NHL's head of hockey operations.
Bud Selig's position on video reviews is, well, ambiguous. After the two disputed calls in the Colorado Rockies-San Diego Padres tiebreaker on Monday, the commissioner appeared on ESPN's Pardon The Interruption to say he was against using video replays.
He said he didn't want reviews slowing down the game. (Slowing down a baseball game? Getting the call right should be the objective.) Pressed by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, Selig said he will give the issue additional thought in the off-season.
- On Sunday, viewers with access to only one Sportsnet channel will not see an NFL game at 4:15 p.m. EDT. However, they will get the three baseball telecasts: Boston Red Sox-Los Angeles Angels at 3 p.m., Cleveland Indians-New York Yankees at 6:30 p.m., followed by Philadelphia Phillies-Rockies (if necessary) at 10 p.m. Digital viewers will have the option of watching baseball or NFL games.
- TSN drew 1.21 million for the Ottawa Senators-Toronto Maple Leafs opener on Wednesday. The audience was down from 1.332 million for the opener last year with the same two teams, but it was the network's third largest for an NHL opener and sixth largest overall for an NHL telecast. It was also tops among all the networks, broadcast and cable, in the Toronto market that night.
- Sportsnet's opening-day baseball playoff audiences are up, for the most part, from last year. The network drew 174,000 for Rockies-Phillies (it had 160,000 last year for Oakland Athletics-Minnesota Twins); 251,000 for Angels-Red Sox (197,000 last year for St. Louis Cardinals-San Diego); and 232,000 for Chicago Cubs-Arizona Diamondbacks (322,000 last year for Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees). The Cubs' game started at 10 p.m., compared with an 8 p.m. start for Tigers-Yankees in 2006.
- The TSN and Sportsnet NHL preview shows went head to head on Tuesday. TSN drew 169,000 viewers and Sportsnet 122,000.
- On TSN's Friday Night Football, Brian Williams reports on the CFL perhaps returning to Ottawa.