Bars and restaurants will soon have to pay a premium, if they want to continue showing sports on TV in their establishments.
Bell and Rogers, who own all of Canada’s major all-sports television channels, are removing TSN and Sportsnet channels from TV packages available to businesses that have a liquor license. Instead, they’ll offer TSN/RDS and Sportsnet channels as standalone packages at much higher prices.
So instead of paying for all-sports channels in the same way a household would, costs will be determined by “occupancy-based retail rate models,” which essentially means that larger establishments will have to pay more than smaller ones.
“Rogers Media and Bell Media have based the new rate models for Sportsnet, TSN, and RDS on the occupancy limit identified on an establishment’s liquor license or fire-code occupancy document,” a cable company told at least one business owner in an email response. “To subscribe to one or both of these channels at the new rates, please send us a copy of your liquor license or fire-code occupancy document that indicates your establishment’s occupancy limit.
“Establishments who currently subscribe to Sportsnet and/or TSN, and do not contact us to re-subscribe, will no longer have access to these channels as of May 1, 2017.”
The timing is less than ideal for business owners, as the new rates correspond with the NHL and NBA playoffs. A cynic would say that’s not a coincidence.
For establishments that market themselves as a sports destination, they will have no choice but to buck up. Other establishments may choose not to buy TSN or Sportsnet altogether, making more bars/restaurants sports-free.
Armin Sodhi, the managing owner of 12 Kings Pub in Vancouver, was perplexed by the news.
“It’s pretty surprising,” Sodhi told Daily Hive. “We already pay premium separate pricing as a business for NFL Sunday Ticket/NHL Centre Ice and pay per view events like UFC and boxing.”
The 12 Kings Pub is a sports bar, so the owner’s hands are tied.
From Sodhi’s perspective, it’s an additional expense for an industry that already has low margins. He feels like the CRTC should have done something about this.
“[The CRTC’s] job is to protect the consumer from companies taking advantage of monopolies on services they have. This came so suddenly without much warning and seems like there is no other option.”
Certainly in this situation, it certainly feels like a case of the rich getting richer, with media conglomerates squeezing more money out of small business owners.