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Breaking Down the TSN Jets Television Deal – What will it mean for customers?

Last week TSN and the Winnipeg Jets announced a 10 year agreement to have TSN broadcast Jets games on a regional channel only available in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Northeastern Ontario, NWT, and Nunavut. Currently, the channel is only confirmed to be available on Bell TV. Many residents of the TSN Jets region, are left wondering how they will be able to watch them games. (I can’t speak for any of the cable operators outside of Manitoba so I will focus on Winnipeg.)

I am on Shaw or MTS, will I be able to get TSN Jets?

Edit: Sunday, September 18, 2011 – It has been reported that MTS will carry TSN Jets at the same price of $9.95 per month. The free preview will last until the end of October.


EDIT: Friday September 16th, 2011 – Shaw has tweeted (@ShawInfo):

#Shaw is excited to announce deal to carry TSN Jets including a free preview until Dec 1. Stay tuned for more – Go #Jets! #NHL

Following the Free Preview – the channel will cost $9.95 per month

We will update the FAQ as more information becomes available

TSN has released the following statement

“TSN is in discussions with television service providers in the broadcast region with the hope of ensuring the broadest possible distribution of Jets games.”

What this means for consumers is that TSN and cable providers are negotiating how to package the channel with their current cable system. They will have to agree on fees paid to distribute the channel, as well as determine how to pass along any additional costs to consumers.

If you are currently on Shaw or MTS, it is important to wait with patience and hope that the cable companies come to an agreement with Bell Media. TSN Jets will be a necessity in many Winnipeg homes, it would be a shame if they were not able to negotiate a deal before the first exhibition game on September 20th.

More of your questions are answered after the jump

What happens if they do not negotiate a deal with additional providers before September 20?

This is the absolute worst case scenario which I would like to think will not come to fruition. If a deal is not reached in time to see games, people may either be forced to switch television service providers or cause a public outcry to urge the two sides to come together.

Is this common in the television world?

A similar situation happened last year when TSN acquired the rights to air 24 Montreal Canadiens games regionally. When the deal was announced, the channel was available only on Bell and this statement was issued in the press release:

“TSN is working with other distributors in the territory to ensure the broadest possible distribution of the Montreal Canadiens games”

While the TSN Habs channel launch, has been similar to the TSN Jets launch (thus far), it is worth pointing out that the Habs and Jets markets are different. Every Habs game is currently broadcasted nationally on RDS, for the English speaking viewers, who have no problems with watching a French broadcast , they may not be interested in switching cable providers, or paying extra for TSN Habs. While in Winnipeg, many fans will not have a chance to see a game live, the demand for hockey here is at a peak and Bell TV could be the only option to watch regional games on television.

What happened?

In the TSN-Habs region, the major cable providers are Videotron and Cogeco who serve over 2 million customers combined. Currently, neither offers TSN-Habs. This could be due to a number of factors, but the main reason being the cable companies and Bell were not able to reach an agreement.

Viewers who were on Videotron or Cogeco, who wanted to watch Habs games, could either continue watching them for no additional cost in French on RDS, or switch providers to Bell to watch the 24 regional games. A number of customers threatened to cancel and switch to Bell, and some were offered a deal to stay at the current provider at a lower price. (I spoke to a friend who lived in Montreal for information on the story, he is a Videotron customer who did not even know there was a TSN Habs, he commented that he is less interested in the Habs, and will be purchasing NHL Centre Ice to watch Jets games (more on that later))

Edit: As of September 8th, 2011 TSN Habs is now available on Shaw Direct 448 in SD and 392 in HD, thank you to commenter Solanges for pointing that out

What may happen?

TSN Jets will have 60 games available regionally, and will be the only way for Jets fans in Manitoba and surrounding areas to watch those games. Deals will be most likely (author’s opinion) be made with other providers to offer the channel. However, if deals are not made, Bell may provide incentives (free equipment, installation, lower prices) for Jets fans to switch, the other cable providers may then counter by offering incentives for customers to stay.

The Jets are too important to Winnipeggers for the cable companies not to reach an agreement. I believe that an agreement will be reached and fans on Shaw & MTS will be able to watch the first regular season TSN Jets broadcast vs. Pittsburgh on October 17th, 2011.

I live inside the TSN Jets broadcast region but don’t have Bell, can I watch the games on NHL Centre Ice?

For fans within the regional broadcast area, TSN Jets games will be blacked out on NHL Centre Ice, all other games will be available, but there will be no Jets games. The only way to watch the games broadcast on TSN Jets will be to order the channel.

I live outside the TSN Jets broadcast region, how will I watch the games?

For Jets fans outside of Manitoba and surrounding areas, TSN-Jets will not be available. To watch the games broadcast on the Jets regional channel, you will have to order NHL Centre Ice through your television provider or stream games online using NHL Gamecenter Live at (this is a paid subscription service, which is quite good).

Other issues – CBC Manitoba HD

I can’t speak for MTS, but on Shaw channel 209, CBC HD is the Ontario HD channel. This means that during Hockey Night in Canada the HD game on CBC HD will be the Maple Leafs (or whichever game CBC Toronto is broadcasting). CBC has yet to release any information regarding which regions the various HNIC broadcasts will be available in, and any additional information about the Winnipeg Jets in HD being available to Manitobans. The season starts in almost a month (that soon already!?!) so there is plenty of time for those details to be released.

What should we do?

Currently, the only option that customers have is to wait. As the season becomes closer, we will have a better idea of the possible outcomes.

This article was written by Michael Remis follow him on twitter @mremis