Bell and Rogers Forcing Sports Bars to Pay More or Lose TSN and Sportsnet

According to a report by the National Post, Bell and Rogers have informed sports bars they will be removing TSN and Sportsnet from bundled TV packages available to businesses with a liquor license.

Tsn logo

Sportsnet logo

In other words, both media conglomerates want businesses to pay more to access regional sports feeds as standalone packages instead:

Smaller bars — less than 100 seats — will be charged about $120 monthly for both channels on top of existing fees, and the cost increases according to seating capacity. The new prices — not that anyone was keen to put them on the record — will also apply to customers who subscribe to those channels through a third party like Shaw or Telus. Shaw confirmed Tuesday that the new prices are set by the channel owners, regardless of service provider.

The National Post points out Bell and Rogers, despite being fierce competitors, made the move simultaneously, suggesting some sort of collusion (we’ve seen similar signs with wireless price changes).

With consumer cord-cutting on the rise, it appears media companies like Rogers and Bell are seeking other revenue streams to stem losses, with smaller sports bars now caught in the cross fire.

It will be tough for these businesses to justify to customers why they aren’t carrying the local NHL, NFL, NBA, CFL or any other major game, so most likely businesses will eat up costs, which could potentially be passed onto consumers with rising prices in either food or alcohol sales.

Changes for Bell business customers are set to kick in on May 1, 2017. Bell explained why these sports channels were increasing in price, as obtained by the National Post:

“The new rates are designed to more accurately reflect the commercial use of the sports channels and the value that these channels represent to commercial establishments,”

“We believe that sports programming is a powerful attractor for bar and restaurant patrons, and that the investment to continue to receive these channels is a good business decision for most establishments.”

Again, it’s a case of Rogers and Bell being able to call the shots since they are vertically integrated when it comes to media, as they control radio, TV, broadcasting rights for major sporting events, own sports franchises, and dominate wireless and Internet offerings as well.

What would you do if you were an owner of a sports bar facing a sports TV price hike from Bell and Rogers?