The Hockey News - Money & Power




TSN’s main man talks the future of broadcasti­ng, finding new viewers, and how, despite losing the NHL contract to Rogers, his networks have never had more hockey

GR: Welcome, Stewart, it’s a pleasure. I’d like to talk about TSN and how it works with the NHL on the business side. But before we get into that, tell us how you got into this business.

SJ: I’ve been at TSN for 21 years, and I came in basically as an intern, begged them to let me clean the toilets and they gave me a brush and said, “Go ahead.” It was a passion for sport that brought me to the industry, and combined with a business degree and a focus on media, the three just collided at TSN back then, and it’s been a hell of a ride ever since. Hockey’s been a major focus over the 30-plus years TSN has been around. We live and breathe it every day.

GR: Everyone knows Rogers won the national NHL TV contract (in Canada) a few years ago. But TSN has contracts with teams and remains very involved in hockey.

SJ: We broadcast more hockey games now than we ever have in our history. We’ve got deals set up with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. We show 26 Leafs games, and for the other three teams we show all of their regional games, which averages around 55 games per team. And you can combine that with our Hockey Canada relationsh­ip, the world juniors is still a mainstay on Canadian TV during the holiday season and generates incredible viewership for us.

GR: When the NHL contract was awarded to Rogers, obviously there was disappoint­ment at TSN. Whenever you bid on anything, there’s always disappoint­ment if you don’t get it.

SJ: You’re right, we had been longtime partners with the NHL on a national level, so it’s a bit like a breakup, you lick your wounds, you move on and you figure out how to grow. We’re now enjoying our most successful season in TSN’s history as a whole with our networks. We’ve launched new feeds, we now have five feeds and a lot of our regional hockey was used as the driver for those feeds.

GR: What’s next for TSN in the hockey business?

SJ: This past summer, we launched TSN and RDS direct to consumer. All you need is an internet connection and you can access all our content that you see through your regular cable or IPTV connection, it’s now direct to consumer. And we’ve expanded our social-media presence, we have a fun group called BarDown that has had great success in reaching that audience. It’s really about finding those viewers. We know they’re passionate, we know they love the sport, we know they consume it in many different ways, and we just have to deliver it however they want it.

GR: It sounds like you’re trying to pick up different sources of revenue from different channels. Is that right?

SJ: The traditiona­l cable network has always had two types of revenue streams, advertisin­g and subscripti­on. We’ve talked about direct consumer,

 ??  ?? Watch the full video Q&A with Stewart Johnston at TheHockeyN­
Watch the full video Q&A with Stewart Johnston at TheHockeyN­

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