Bulls & Bears: World Juniors a sport business juggernaut

 

Tom Mayenknecht hosts The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday.

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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BULLS OF THE WEEK

Football is riding high on the backs of the wall-to-wall television coverage of college bowl season and the final week of the NFL’s efficient 17-week regular season; one that has one playoff spot, three divisional titles and a half dozen seedings up for grabs on the final day of the schedule Sunday. Yet it’s also a good time to be a hockey fan, with a robust TV schedule spanning the IIHF World Juniors, Friday’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and other regular-season games this New Year’s weekend. Credit where credit is due: It’s still better suited for a 32-team (or 28-team) league, but the NHL’s new four-division alignment and Stanley Cup tournament structure sure widens the picture of playoff possibilities and makes for so much more scoreboard-watching than the old six-division format, even with more than half of the regular schedule still to be played. Yet with a nod to the television magnet that was Friday’s Original Six matchup on outdoor ice at an NFL stadium, the single biggest sport business bull of the past week is the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. It’s created a bull market for hockey in both the Finnish capital of Helsinki and here in Canada; where lead-in promotion, cross-marketing and appointment television have made the Under-21 championship must-see TV for hockey fans over the holiday season. More than 10 million Canadians have watched at least some of the tournament action since Boxing Day, when an average national audience of 2.9 million tuned in for the Canada-U. S. opener to set a new record for an opening game held outside of North America. No hockey game played in 2015 drew more Canadian viewers except for the 7.1 million who watched Canada and Russia square off in the gold-medal final of last year’s championship in Toronto. Audiences are up 41 per cent from the last time the tournament was held in Europe. Yet the real sport business indicator of how big TSN and RDS have made this event comes in the logos of Canadian companies and Hockey Canada sponsors on the ice and rink boards in Helsinki. Go to the IIHF’s tournament website for another reminder of why this event has achieved iconic status in Canada: Esso, Nike, RBC, Telus, TSN and RDS — all Hockey Canada business partners — occupy the prime real estate on the home page masthead.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

There’s still far too much inconsistency on suspensions in the NHL, far too lax concussion protocols in both pro hockey and football and all kinds of angst on the weakening Canadian dollar; a source of stress for any domestic pro sports team earning most of its revenues in loonies and paying its player payroll in U.S. Benjamins. Yet the biggest bears of the week are sources who recant their stories after their allegations have already been made public and cast doubt on the reputations of innocent-until-proven-guilty professional athletes. The media is driven to seek the truth, but when it is done the way it was in last week’s Al Jazeera American documentary The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping, you’re left appreciating the importance of the seemingly lost art of cross-referencing sources.

Listen to The Sport Market on TSN 1040 AM Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bulls Bears airs at 9 a.m., followed by Weekend Extra with Sun Sports at 9:30 a.m.

Follow Tom Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/thesportmarket

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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