"Whether we like it or not in other parts of the country, the Toronto Maple Leafs drive the value of the hockey broadcast ecosystem," said Moore. Moore speaks with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan regularly and said the team's tear-down approach "has been painful for him, and, frankly, it's been painful for us." According to a Globe and Mail report last week, Rogers has had to offer free spots to advertisers to make up for failures to reach promised audience targets. These "make-do" spots are cutting into ad revenues across the Rogers Media broadcast system, the Globe said. "We have ratings guarantees in some of our deals," said Moore, singling out Scotiabank and Samsung as advertisers "who clearly see the value in hockey even without Canadian teams. I won't get into specifics."
"The great opium of sports is hope."
— Sportsnet President Scott Moore
"You can't look at sports as a quarter-by-quarter business."Asked if he would still make the blockbuster NHL rights deal today, Moore said: "In a heartbeat. In an absolute heartbeat." He pointed to recent news Twitter will begin streaming Thursday night NFL games. With CBS and NBC holding broadcast rights, questions have been raised as to how this will affect the U.S. broadcast ecosystem. With the NHL deal, Rogers has locked up broadcast and streaming rights across all platforms for another 10 years. "We control where the games get seen," said Moore. "We can't be blindsided by a digital upstart who wants to overpay for sports rights to grow their overall business." Rogers will carry playoff games on TV as well as stream them on NHL GameCentre Live and the new Sportsnet Now stand-alone service.
Unpredictability problemMoore said the biggest challenge with the broadcast deal is the regular ebb and flow of sports. "It's not as predictable as other parts of the telecom business," he said. "You need to be able to take a long-term look at the property and say 'Where will we be in five years, where will we be in six years?'" That's not a comfortable position at a public company where reports are made quarterly. Moore's pitch to shareholders is to remember the value in founder Ted Rogers' long-term vision. It took years for the company's gamble on ownership of the Toronto Blue Jays to pay off, he said. "Look at how it paid off last year and this year," said Moore. "You can't look at sports as a quarter-by-quarter business." "The great opium of sports is hope," Moore added. If Toronto and Edmonton, two Canadian teams rebuilding for the future with high draft picks, meet in the Stanley Cup final two years from now, "the tenor of the press reporting will be very, very different, I expect," Moore said. The NHL playoffs open Wednesday.