How is ESPN Classic still going in Canada? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 2019-11-03, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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How is ESPN Classic still going in Canada?

The US channel started winding down years ago and just last week it was announced that it is being dropped from one of the biggest satellite companies. How is it still broadcasting in Canada? Could they rebrand it so it broadcasts live sport? The viewing figures were very poor in the US, what must they be like in Canada then?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 2019-11-03, 01:42 PM
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I couldn't find a HTML version of it, but the 2018 CRTC financial summary for it suggests that it's been sinking fast here too. (PDF here )

Revenue has gone off a cliff since 2014 (down 29%, 29%, 51%, and 13% each year), and it looks like it lost money in 2017 and 2018. Advertising revenue is a rounding error at under $20,000 for all of 2018 (1/10th what it was in 2014).

It has no staff anymore and is effectively a zombie channel now.

They'd have to get the license changed to show live sports. Although they probably could do that... why? There isn't a lot of live sports rights out there that aren't locked up by someone, and shifting something they already have over to it would probably not work out very well since it only has 328,000 subscribers. I'm not even sure it has an HD feed, and who would watch SD live sports these days? Any sports league shuffled there from a more prominent channel would be pretty furious.

Don't be surprised to see a rebrand or a shutdown here too, Bell won't keep losing money on it forever.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 2019-11-03, 02:25 PM
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It has no HD feed. Bell has enough in it's catalog to re brand it. Also it's possible they don't need to re-license it to show stuff that isn't live sports. I would love for them to turn it into ESPN Canada and show a lot of the shows that TSN could show but doesn't have time for. Stuff like E60, 30 for 30 docs when they go live in the states (as opposed to whenever TSN can fit it in), ESPN talk shows that they show in the states but not in Canada (Paul Finebaum, Mike and Mike, Get Up, etc.), MLB tonight during baseball season,even American Sports Center which has more sports that they don't show on Canadian Sports Center (more college basketball, football, baseball). This would not require a license change although it would require them to find some basic Canadian content to meet minimum requirements which they can probably fill overnight with replays of CFL games or something basic to meet requirements.

If they did this with a license change to show live sports, it could be a game changer for those of us in Canada who aren't hardcore hockey fans and would prefer more sports that they don't show. There is tons of stuff they can show. A massive amount of NCAA content from ESPN and other providers they have the rights to (baseball, women's softball, football, mens / womens basketball, lacrosse, etc.), some basketball (games that don't get a huge audience that TSN just doesn't want to air), Aussie Rules Football, XFL Football (if they get the license), arena football, international basketball (Euroleague), Little League World Series (games that don't just involve Canada), NLL Lacrosse, plus more! I'd be happy to pay for this!

This isn't unheard of as they did this in the UK with BT Sports ESPN America where it is essentially American ESPN showing all of the American Sports and sports news / talk shows that don't get enough of an audience for the core BT Sports audience but have enough of an audience that people will pay for as an extra. If the Big Ten network can survive in Canada I think this would.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 2019-11-03, 09:25 PM
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This is not surprising given that the channel is unappealing without NHL content. The revenue off the cliff seems to coincide directly with Rogers' NHL contract. Now, the only hockey shown on the channel are IIHF games. Some of which are ok, but there are not that many U20 championships games worth watching at the frequency they are aired.

I suppose they didn't pay much before, hence they don't want to pay Rogers much for any prior rights.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 2019-11-04, 11:16 AM
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I do like the 30 for 30's they show on ESPN Classic, and some of the other stuff like old NCAA games are good. But without access to baseball or hockey or basketball (outside of old Raptors games as the rest are on NBA TV) there isn't much.
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