Rogers to Drop NHL Rights for Ohtani Blue Jays Deal: Report [UPDATE]

shohei ohtani

Rogers is reportedly planning a significant shift in its sports broadcasting strategy to land two-way MLB star Shohei Ohtani for the Toronto Blue Jays.

As the company’s whopping 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with the NHL nears its end, Rogers is apparently setting its sights on baseball superstar Ohtani. This move is part of a broader plan to rebrand from a hockey-focused network to a Blue Jays-centric one.

Industry veterans told the Toronto Sun that the pursuit of Ohtani by Rogers, which owns the Toronto Blue Jays, is timed with the conclusion of its NHL contract. The NHL deal, costing Rogers around $500 million annually, will expire after the 2026 hockey season. In contrast, the potential contract with the 29-year old Ohtani could range from $500 to $600 million USD over a likely 10-year period, making it a financially more viable option for Rogers.

Rogers is set to reorient its Sportsnet network towards the Toronto Blue Jays and potentially Ohtani, aiming to boost revenue and cut costs. This change is in response to the significant financial losses from its NHL contract. While Rogers will maintain regional NHL rights for teams like the Maple Leafs and Oilers, the focus will shift to baseball.

The potential acquisition of Ohtani is expected to not only elevate the Blue Jays’ national popularity but also enhance their international standing, especially in Japan. This move could result in higher ratings and increased advertising and sponsorship revenues. Despite the initial high costs due to the ongoing NHL contract, Rogers anticipates greater profitability in the long run with this baseball-centric strategy.

The future of national NHL broadcasting rights in Canada is uncertain. TSN, having lost these rights earlier, has reportedly been more economically successful without them. Rogers, meanwhile, appears keen to move away from its costly NHL deal and focus on more lucrative baseball broadcasting opportunities.

Dodgers Nation reported today that Ohtani will sign with the Blue Jays over the LA Dodgers, with Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri said to be directly involved with the negotiations. Ohtani’s deal is said to be bigger than the 12-year, $426.5 million USD deal his team mate Mike Trout signed with the Anaheim Angels in 2019. An announcement might come as soon as tonight.

Ohtani is reportedly en route to Toronto today, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Update Dec. 9, 2023: Looks like it was a case of fake news yesterday. Ohtani has officially signed with the Dodgers, in a contract worth $700 million USD over 10 years.

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