Been a long time since we last looked at the national sports TV wars, though does it count as “renewing” it when the broadcast contract belonged to CBS only two years ago and they inherited what they did get from the former Versus? Still, say what you will about the NHL, but Comcast’s rise to challenge ESPN for sports supremacy really got started when Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France-winning ways fell in the lap of a little outfit called the Outdoor Life Network. Now NBCSN and NBC will continue airing the Tour de France for another decade. (They’re also boasting about airing live stages on the NBC broadcast network starting this year, but I thought they did that last year too? In any case, you can bet ESPN wouldn’t be putting live stages on ABC…)
The bigger story, though, may be the break-up between CBC and Bell, who had teamed up to be the only serious contender for Canadian Olympic rights past 2012. Worse, Bell – owners of Canada’s only other all-sports network – has joined Rogers in saying it’s not interested in Olympic rights at all anymore. Does this mean CBC will have to try for the games on their own? Will Shaw, who owns one of Canada’s major broadcast networks but has no sports presence, step up? Will interest perk up if NHL players end up participating in the 2014 Games? Will Canadians have to watch the games from American coverage on NBC? Or could this open the door for Yahoo to put Canadian Olympic coverage on the Internet?