Scott Moore, a self-professed Canadiens fan who is the president of Sportsnet and NHL Properties for Rogers Media, was among those on hand for a news conference Wednesday in Boucherville as TVA launched its inaugural season of French-language NHL coverage.
Rogers also announced on Wednesday a new package that will allow Habs fans across the country to watch all 82 regular-season games on TV. Before Wednesday’s announcement, Canadiens fans living west of Belleville, Ont., wouldn’t have had access to the regional coverage unless they paid $200 for the NHL Centre Ice TV package.
Rogers announced Wednesday that fans outside of Montreal and Ottawa broadcast regions can now also get up to 111 games broadcast live in French, including the Canadiens (60 games) and the Senators (54 games) on both Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE (the NHL streaming service) and on TV with NHL Centre Ice. The 60 non-regional Habs games and the 54 Senators games will be available for $60 to those outside the regional market.
“Canadiens fans have more access to their team’s games than any fan base in Canada,” Moore told reporters in Boucherville. “They can see more games, for example, than a Leafs fan in Vancouver. We’ve put together a French-language package which will allow fans to see 60 Canadiens games and 54 Ottawa Senators.”
When Rogers outbid TSN for the national rights last November, paying $5.2 billion over 12 years, it sold the French rights to TVA and RDS had to make do with regional packages involving the Canadiens and Senators.
TVA Sports is paying more than $1.3 billion for the national French TV rights over 12 years and the network will be offering more than 330 NHL games this season, beginning with the Montreal-Toronto season opener on Oct. 8.
One drawback for TVA is that the schedule only includes 22 Canadiens games. The other 60 regular-season games are part of the RDS regional package. RDS will also televise all seven Habs pre-season games.
Félix Seguin will be the main play-by-play voice for TVA and former NHL goaltender Patrick Lalime will join him in the booth. Reporter Renaud Lavoie, who left RDS, will also be part of the TVA team and Louis Jean will host the telecasts. Former Habs Patrice Brisebois, José Theodore and Mathieu Dandenault will be among the TVA analysts.
Rogers also announced on Wednesday that starting this January, fans in Quebec with Rogers NHL GameCentre and a TVA Sports subscription from a participating television provider can watch live French broadcasts of over 100 national games featuring all of the Canadian teams.
Also in attendance at Wednesday’s news conference were NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL chief operating officer John Collins, former prime minister Brian Mulroney, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson, TVA Sports president Pierre Dion and former NHL stars, including Yvan Cournoyer.
(Photo by Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)