PROVINCIAL TELEVISION COVERAGE CHANGES
By Joe Pavia
Then you saw it. Now you see it differently.
Ontario fans have been used to switching on their televisions to watch the Scotties and Tankard on Sportsnet and Rogers. When those two events begin this Sunday January 29 you will have to turn on your steaming devices: tablets, laptops, smart phones etc.
The Rogers group of companies pulled out of their coverage at the end of last season citing costs and some other differences. In its place the Ontario Curling Association is paying a new company called TSL (Total Sports Live) to provide coverage. This is a new model of coverage to which some curlers aren’t accustomed.
Barry Rendall, their VP, Media Sales said that his company approached the OCA two and a half years ago with a proposal they gradually warmed up to. The plan was to start with the Recharge with Milk Tankard and the Scotties to showcase round robin play and add a few other smaller events.
This has now morphed into broadcasting a whole range of events that started with the Travelers, then the U21 from Russell but now includes almost all OCA provincials including seniors and masters. As to their first foray at the Travelers Rendall said, “We had some growing pains that we had to work out. We’ve added graphics, commentary and are able to follow the rock much better with our equipment.”
“The OCA was paying Sportsnet to cover their event. We are doing it at a substantially lower cost but because these are the premier events of the year (the Scotties and Tankard) they are a pay for view but the rest are at no charge. Other than the two events in Cobourg just log in and watch the events.” There is no charge to watch any other events.
Their business model is to attract advertisers so that eventually associations don’t have to pay TSL. “If we get enough funds in we are actually going to stream money back to the associations to cover costs, to cover whatever their needs are for the athletes. Unlike the others where it’s give me give me we are actually starting this program to give money back to the associations. Our ultimate goal is to get them down to a cost zero to cover their events. But it all comes down to the advertising revenue.”
With only two events under their belts so far they are learning from their experience. “No one heard of us a few months ago. Our premier event we had 3700 viewers. The U21 we had just shy of 7000 viewers.
We are anticipating that the Tankard and Scott Tournament of Hearts will double that.” Because the broadcast logistics for live streaming are a little less logistically complicated they can broadcast from smaller venues as opposed to arenas where most Tankard play happens. This has created a challenge however. “Some of the curling clubs that are given the hosting rights are going to have to be a little bit fresher, newer and brighter because it doesn’t lend itself well to being dark. Some of the venues have to be brighter. Its one of the things they (the OCA) have to address. We want curling to be put in the best light possible. No pun intended.”
Go to https://www.titlesportslive.ca/register/ to register. The cost is around $11.
Tankard Teams: John Epping, Greg Balsdon, Glenn Howard, Mark Bice, Dayna Deruelle, Wayne Tuck, Cody Maus, Scott Bailey, Mike Harris and Corey Heggestad. Scotties teams: Rachel Homan, Allison Flaxey, Cathy Auld, Jacqueline Harrison, Julie Tippin, Sherry Middaugh, Megan Balsdon and Heather Heggestad.
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