Bell And Rogers
December 10, 2011 by staff
Bell And Rogers, Content has long been King. But in the wake of the joint Rogers Communications/BCE takeover of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, it has been upgraded to Emperor, if not Supreme Galactic Ruler.
How else does one explain two of Canada’s fiercest business rivals coming together to pay an astounding $1.32 billion for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan’s 79.53 per cent share of the company that owns the NHL’s Maple Leafs, NBA’s Raptors, major league soccer’s Toronto FC, the minor league Toronto Marlies hockey club, and the Air Canada Centre?
It is a premium price, for what the rival communications giants and broadcasters—Rogers owns Sportsnet, and Bell TSN—believe is a premium TV product. And the driving force for the surprise deal was clearly self-preservation.
When the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan let it be known that they were willing to sell their 80 per cent stake in MLSE last spring, (purchased 17 years ago for $180 million) it was obvious that it would take very deep pockets indeed to seal the bargain. Both Rogers and Bell kicked the tires, fearing the other was motivated to buy. Regional TV rights for the Toronto Maple Leafs—a team that attracts viewers and advertisers like no other in Canada—currently split between the two sports networks were to come up for renegotiation in 2015. The national broadcast rights, shared between TSN and CBC, are up for grabs in 2014. In Canada, any sports channel without NHL hockey—and more specifically the Leafs—wouldn’t last for long. And in wedding themselves in MLSE ownership, BCE and Rogers have gained perpetual access to the most sought-after content in the land.
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