New TVA Sports channel takes a shot at RDS
rookie aims to show Canadiens games
Right out of the starting gate, the new French-language sports network served notice it will take on RDS.
“We would like to broadcast Montreal Canadiens games,” said Pierre Dion, president and CEO of TVA Group Inc. Tuesday after announcing the launch of TVA Sports, a national French-language specialty channel for sports.
Dion said his network will offer “real competition” for RDS, the other French-language sports network in the country. RDS is part of the CTV network that was purchased this year by Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. RDS broadcasts all Canadiens games and several games of the Ottawa Senators.
TVA Sports will launch in September and offer a range of sports. It will broadcast 25 Senators games next season andgamesfromtheEuropean soccer Champions League. The network also signed an exclusivity agreement with Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Toronto Blue Jays. It will broadcast two Blue Jays games per week, for a total of 60 games.
The channel will be offered on Vidéotron, which shares parent company Quebecor Media Inc., with TVA and will be available for a monthly subscription. Dion said he hopes to have the channel distributed with networks across the country, since the channel’s focus will be national and international.
However, that may not be a sure thing, since Bell Canada has refused to carry several new channels that TVA has launched in recent months.
Bell stopped carrying Sun News, an all-news channel launched by TVA just two weeks after it launched in April after a dispute over fees. It also doesn’t carry Mlle or Yoopa, two French-language channels that focus on women and youth that also launched this spring.
“We certainly hope Bell will carry it to their subscribers,” Dion said.
“It’s difficult for us to understand why they don’t carry (the other channels).”
Quebecor has been trying for several years to acquire sportscontenttocompetewith Bell Media.
Two years ago, the firm failed in its pitch to purchase a stake of the Canadiens, which eventually went to Bell.
Since then, Quebecor secured the naming rights for a future arena in Quebec City. There has also been speculation the company would be a part owner of a new team if the NHL returned to the city.
“The objective one day is to be broadcasting (Quebec) Nordiques, Canadiens and Senators games,” Dion said.
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 Belanger, a broadcasting spe- cialist at the University of Ottawa. He noted that the Senators did not make the playoffs and argued baseball is dead to a Quebec audience.
“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,” Belanger said. “(For now), they’re facing a pretty uphill battle.”
TVA Sports will launch in September and offer a range of sports. It will broadcast 25 Senators games next season and games from the European Soccer champions League. The network also signed an exclusivity agreement with ultimate Fighting championship...