OTTAWA - It's a great deal for digi-net Country Canada, which will be able to showcase some high-profile programming, but one wonders if curling's new TV deal a great deal for fans of the game.
The Canadian Curling Association announced a new four year agreement with CBC-TV this week, awarding the Corp. television rights for the CCA's "Season of Champions" events from 2005 through 2008.
The deal removes TSN as a broadcast partner. TSN has aired curling for years, showing the early rounds and even morning draws of events like the Brier and the Tournament of Hearts. The new deal will see Country Canada air evening early round draws and morning draws will no longer be on television. The main CBC network will continue to air the playoffs and finals of the major events.
"We are extremely pleased to confirm that an extensive agreement has been reached with CBC-TV," said CCA president Barry Greenberg, in a release. "It certainly puts the CCA and our Season of Champions events in an enviable position as we move towards the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver."
"We are pleased to be continuing CBC's long association with the Canadian Curling Association and we know this will benefit not only Canadian curling fans, but the development of the sport as well," said Nancy Lee, executive director for CBC Sports.
The Season of Champions events currently consist of the Continental Cup, K�rcher Juniors, Scott Tournament of Hearts, the Brier (which is looking for a title sponsor since Nokia left), Strauss Canada Cup of Curling, Ford Worlds and the Canadian Curling Trials.
Under this new deal, CBC will broadcast a minimum of 180 hours of live coverage each Season of Champions between the main network and the CBC digital channel, Country Canada. There will be additional hours for the 2005 season which includes the Canadian Curling Trials expanding the total coverage that year to over 215 hours.
The CCA indicated the four year agreement will allow the Association to invest in various curling programs and services to benefit community level through to elite curlers across Canada to ensure the continued growth, popularity and success of the sport.
However, with TSN (a channel which has far wider distribution than Country Canada, and one that has done much for the promotion of curling in the country) now out of the picture, curling will be available to fewer viewers. Plus, don't look for TSN to feature the sport as prominently on its flagship news program, Sportscentre, in the future.
"The CCA's goals in these negotiations were to ensure its Season of Champions' sponsors and partners would continue to receive the high levels of coverage and value they had come to expect; to increase the investment in curling programs for all curlers across Canada, and lastly, to provide Canadian curling fans continued enjoyment of quality television coverage throughout the Season of Champions," says the press release.
"I would like to extend a special thanks to TSN for the tremendous support it has given the CCA and curling during the past 20 years," added Greenberg. "There is no doubt that we enjoyed a great, mutually beneficial relationship.
"We now look forward to a new era of curling coverage and to forging an expanded partnership with CBC-TV."
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