TVA Sports will cover 38 Sens games en francais
By Terrance Gavan – Sens’ Reporter
TVA, the newest player in the all-sports network fandango, launched two weeks ago, and on Wednesday (Sept 21) announced it will broadcast 38 Ottawa games this season, starting with the club’s home opener on Oct. 11 against Minnesota. (7:30 pm start.)
The TVA broadcast crew stars play-by-play man Pierre Rinfret, color guy Yvon Pedneault, and former NHL’er Enrico Ciccone commentating a la TSN’s Pierre McGuire between the team benches.
“We are happy to bring the Senators to our network right from the start, giving our viewers the opportunity to see the best players in the world,’ said Pierre Dion, president and CEO of TVA Group Inc. “This is a first for the Ottawa Senators and their fans, to have a French broadcasting team on site with our commentators and analysts for local games.”
It’s a sweet coup for the Sens because there are a lot of Ottawa and Gatineau fans who like to watch hockey in their first language. Heck, growing up in Ottawa I used to watch my Habs play in French. Under orders from our French teacher Fr. Joe Haley.
“We’re excited about our partnership with TVA Sports and what this will bring to our francophone audience,” said Senators president Cyril Leeder. “With TVA Sports showing 38 games, we expect that more than 60 Senators regular-season games will now be televised in French, the most we’ve ever been able to provide to our fans.”
Okay. We’ve got the schedule down below at the bottom of the article.
Now for the serendipitous addendum. Who or what is TVA Sports? And please tell me… that the T does not stand for The? Sorry TSN, but you know – the optics of the The? Never really put the bam-a-lam in my strawberry jam. Could you not have gone with Terrific? Or Thundering? Tumultuous? Tremendous? We digress.
We’ve done the requisite homework and have gleaned that this TVA Sports is a Pierre Karl Peladeau (PKP) enterprise. Call it a shot across the bow and a trial balloon to lay down some heady bona fides as he continues to pursue an ownership bid for an NHL franchise. PKP is the media mogul in charge of Quebecor Media Incorporated or QMI.
If you haven’t heard of Pierre Karl’s staggering empire? You really need to get out more. Peladeau’s imprimatur is firmly notched upon a huge chain of Canadian daily newspapers and he owns a healthy percentage of Canada’s weekly news publications and various magazines. Oh and Sun TV. We could go on and on but… you get the idea.
Now, what exactly is driving this Péladeauvian ramble into the already SRO tableau of 24 hour sports programming?
Well way back on May 31 (2011) the Financial Post weighed in with a lucid and compelling take on PKP’s newest tumble down the money pit.
“Quebecor Inc. is launching its all-sports specialty channel TVA Sports this fall, broadcasting Ottawa Senators and Toronto Blue Jays games in French as chief executive Pierre Karl Péladeau works on winning his own NHL hockey franchise,” wrote FP’s Nicolas Van Praet.
“Wearing a baseball cap and blue cycling jersey, Mr. Péladeau peeled the lid off his plans for the new station during a news conference Tuesday. TVA Sports will compete with RDS, owned by telecom giant BCE Inc.’s CTV globe media unit.”
“All major cities in North America and elsewhere have at least two sports channels but until now, that has not been the case in Quebec,” Mr. Péladeau said. “It’s been easy [for RDS] to be No. 1 when it’s been the only game in town.”
TVA Sports will build a new newsroom in Montreal to deliver sports information, promising viewers news, event coverage and opinion. The station said it has signed a number of long-term deals with sports organizations securing broadcasting rights.
Those include a deal with the Ottawa Senators to broadcast 25 professional hockey games starting this year, an agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays to carry 60 baseball games as of 2012, a deal with Interbox under which it will broadcast some live bouts and get exclusive content, and a multi-year agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to carry live fights.
I get it. Quebecor sees a niche and wants to fill it. Super. But FP and me? We think there’s something deeper goin’ on.
Says FP, “Mr. Péladeau is widely considered the next leading ownership candidate if another NHL franchise is approved for Canada. He has been working behind the scenes for months to try to convince NHL officials and owners of the merits of bringing back the Nordiques and has dedicated a small team at Quebecor to the task.”
Okay, I’m pretty sure that PKP’s small team is probably not what you or I would consider small. I’m guessing that what Pierre Karl calls small? You and I would consider substantial. I mean he flies around in a corporate jet. So let’s say Mr. Peladeau, who was outbid by the Molson family when he attempted to pop the Montreal Canadiens into his portfolio back in 2009, has a rejuvenated interest in another Quebec NHL franchise.
“Mr. Péladeau is hungry for an NHL team to feed content across his range of media platforms,” says Monsieur Van Praet of THE Financial Post. “Quebecor controls cable and wireless company Videotron Ltee, television network network TVA Group, as well as Internet portals Canoe Inc. and newspaper chains Sun Media Corp. and Osprey Media.”
The CRTC says it will not interfere in the deal RDS has with the Habs. That runs until 2012-13. So TVA Sports is left with a pretty sketchy looking program booklet unless… by some fluke or happenstance, Pierre Karl Peladeau can convince NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and a fair number of the Board of Governors that The New York Islanders might look better in throwback Quebec Nordique jerseys.
A sports analyst says that starting TVA right now may be a shot in the dark. But PKP apparently likes his chances.
“Starting TVA Sports now is “a sort of a desperation shot” because the station has no major sporting hot-ticket broadcast rights like the Canadiens or the Alouettes football squad,” said Pierre Bélanger, a broadcasting specialist at the University of Ottawa.
This year he may also be gambling that the Sens make the playoffs. And he may lose that bet. I got em placing 10th and 8 points away from a playoff berth.
“In my mind, what Quebecor Media is doing is probably just revving up the broadcasting machine in the likelihood that there will be an [NHL team in Quebec City] within the next two to three years,” Mr. Belanger said. “[For now], they’re facing a pretty uphill battle.”
Ah, but let us rejoice mes amis!
Francophone fans in Ottawa, Gatineau, Kanata, Renfrew, Carleton Place, Vankleek Hill, Smiths Falls and Hawkesbury? Can celebrate. Bon chance les guys!
Now if Mr. Peladeau is willing to put up a little playoff payola to the Sens?
What do you mean that’s not legal?
Meh! Too many rules.
Here is TVA Sports schedule for 2011/12:
• Tuesday, Oct. 11, vs. Minnesota – 7:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Oct. 18, vs. Philadelphia – 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Oct. 20, vs. Winnipeg – 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Oct. 30, vs. Toronto – 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 11, at Buffalo – 7:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 15, at Calgary – 9 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 17, at Edmonton – 9:30 p.m
• Sunday, Nov. 20, at Vancouver – 9 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 25, at Pittsburgh – 7 p.m.
• Sunday, Nov. 27, vs. Carolina – 5 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Winnipeg – 8:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 1, at Dallas – 8:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 8, at New Jersey – 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, Dec. 13, at Buffalo – 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, Dec. 20, vs. Buffalo – 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 23, at Carolina – 7 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 30, vs. Calgary – 7:30 p.m.
• Monday, Jan. 2, vs. New Jersey – 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 5, vs. Tampa Bay – 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 7, at Philadelphia – 1 p.m.
• Sunday, Jan. 8, vs. Philadelphia, – 5 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Pittsburgh – 7 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 12, at N.Y. Rangers – 7 p.m.
• Monday, Jan. 16, vs. Winnipeg – 7:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Toronto – 7 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 19, at San Jose – 10:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 21, at Anaheim – 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Phoenix – 9 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Boston – 7 p.m.
• Friday, Feb. 3, vs. N.Y. Islanders – 7:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Boston – 7 p.m.
• Sunday, March 4, at Florida – 6 p.m.
• Tuesday, March 6, at Tampa Bay – 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday, March 8, vs. N.Y. Rangers – 7:30 p.m.
• Monday, March 26, at Winnipeg – 8:30 p.m.
• Sunday, April 1 – at N.Y. Islanders – 3 p.m.
• Tuesday, April 3, vs. Carolina – 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday, April 5, vs. Boston – 7:30 p.m.
Sens reporter Terrance Gavan was born in Ottawa. Attended Carleton University, graduated from University of Manitoba. Sports Editor for The Manitoban; Sports Information Director at the U of M. History: Interlake Publishing, CP, UPI, Winnipeg Sun, Assignments:CBC Radio/TSN. Managing Editor/Kanata Kourier/Standard 92-93. Quebecor; Currently: Sports and Entertainment Editor The Highlander, Haliburton, ON. Award winning photographer and poet. Lives by a lake with his dog Billie Jean. Happy. Happy.