Monday, June 09, 2008

CTV buys HNIC theme

CTV Inc., together with Copyright Music & Visuals, today announced that CTV Inc. has acquired all rights to 'The Hockey Theme' in perpetuity, preserving the song's legacy and ensuring it will be heard on national television for years to come. 'The Hockey Theme' song will now live on CTV Inc. properties TSN, RDS and across Canada on CTV during coverage of the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Olympics as outlined below.
Expect to hear the song now on TSN's Wednesday night hockey broadcasts, as the sports network, and its parent at CTV, get more and more into NHL broadcasting.

It'll certainly be strange hearing the theme on a different network.

Given The Globe is also under the same partnership, there's the possibility the song will be blasted 24/7 in the sports department in the near future.

CBC Sports' take is here.
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30 Comments:

At 4:53 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You snooze, you lose, CBC.

The kind of brand recognition that song provided was unprecedented in this country. The times I flipped on the tube and heard that song playing, the hairs raising along my spine, are innumerable.

But, this is a public broadcaster. Everybody fills their diaper about what CBC spends money on in the first place, so even if they'd secured the song, you'd have the anti-sports types screaming about how ridiculous it is to pay so much taxpayer cash for a song.

The fact is, CBC's primacy as the nation's premiere hockey broadcaster is getting whittled down a bit at a time. No Olympics (or curling, or other things either), Bob Cole is gone, Cherry likely to follow, Chris Cuthbert...and now, no song. Why are we tuning in? Each piece forms key parts of the show.

Within 5 years, TSN will be Hockey Night in Canada.

 
At 4:56 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

I think it's time to start penning the eulogy for HNiC on CBC. CBC has lost pretty much everything else sporting wise to the CTV/TSN monolith and it's only a matter of time before Saturday night hockey is gone with it.

It'll be weird watching the Grey Cup this year on CTV/TSN (don't know which is actually broadcasting that game), the 2010 Olympics on CTV/TSN, and it just seems to be paving the way for Saturday night hockey on CTV. Heck, CBC struggles to put curling on with TSN competing.

 
At 5:03 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Eyeris said...

Unconfirmed reports/rumours put the theme song at about 3.5 million for CTV. CBC is damned if they don't spend the money; damned if they spend the money.

Though to be fair, HNIC is pretty much the only revenue-generator for the corp. Don't know how this will affect their overall revenue.

 
At 5:04 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

To steal a line from my own site: Richard Zednik thinks this is the cut throat move of the year.

 
At 5:06 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We tune in for the hockey.

I'm glad they didn't pay for that song. Why should anyone continue to get paid for work they did 40 years ago?

Hearing the HNIC theme on CTV/TSN will be as bad as hearing the Cheers theme on those Kelsey's commercials.

Oh, and you all will miss CBC when we're watching playoff overtimes riddled with Rogers commercials.

 
At 5:13 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Pokecheck said...

Heart attacks galore. Holy cow.

 
At 5:30 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should anyone continue to get paid for work they did 40 years ago?

as per copyright law

 
At 5:39 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

I read a good comment by a poster on the TSN site:

"You can't buy the tradition."

Meanwhile, TSN's headline on their main page reads: "CTV SAVES THE HOCKEY THEME". That, my friends, is fine journalism.

 
At 5:44 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous dr said...

I think the only way this attracts more viewers to TSN is if they play the song through the whole game and intermissions so viewers can't hear McGuire, Healy or Dreger.

 
At 6:07 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

Oh, and you all will miss CBC when we're watching playoff overtimes riddled with Rogers commercials.

Because we all remember the time that happened on TSN, right?

Wait, there's no TV timeouts in any playoff overtimes? Ever? Wow, there goes that argument.

 
At 6:22 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Cams Habs said...

First it was Chris Cuthbert.

Now it is the theme song.

Quote: Oh, and you all will miss CBC when we're watching playoff overtimes riddled with Rogers commercials.

I'll take muting the commercials over muting Bob Cole trying to tell the difference between half the Montreal team and having Greg Millen correct him every time he announces the wrong team going to the penalty box or someone shooting the puck over the glass in the offensive or neutral zone.

"He passed it to the Kostopoulos brother, the younger one that is..."

 
At 7:10 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous Slater said...

What a farce. They're actually going to play their competitor's widely recognized theme song? Does anyone seriously think that Canadians will someday come to associate that song with Wednesday night Leafs hockey, or the parade of shows that will eventually follow?

The point is this: CTV possesses no such legacy of broadcasting that could produce or maintain a show whose theme song could become a rare example of Canadian culture. So they bought the song! The problem is that the song by itself can't survive on its own for very long. CTV will simply ride that horse for a little while until it dies.

Greed and stupidity kills a little piece of Canadiana. Copyright law should protect our culture, not destroy it.

 
At 7:50 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just heard that Who wants to be a Millionaire bought rights to Jeopardy theme song.

Greg Millen should consider a new career.

 
At 8:12 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger godot10 said...

CBC management lack imagination (or to put it less politely, are idiots). All they had to do was run a fundraising campaign to raise the funds to buy the song permanently.

 
At 8:47 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

There are cold hard facts that some of you cannot get through your heads, I'm sorry to put it this bluntly.

CBC tried to negotiate to keep he rights to the song. The creator of the song and the CBC are in the middle of a lawsuit which has made the negotiating process an almost impossible thing to overcome. CBC even tried to pay them what they're asking for.

"We offered arbitration, mediation — we offered to meet their price. On Friday, when it came right down to it, we never got a response from them on our latest offer and find out, in the meantime, they appeared to be negotiating with CTV."

That quote is from someone at CBC.

Doesn't this whole thing leave a horribly bad taste in your mouth about CTV/TSN?

As I was typing this message, a SportsCentre update just came on TSN to tout the fact that they picked up the rights. The sound of the song playing while Darren Dutchyshen announced the news was absolutely disgusting.

What kind of kool aid are you CBC-Haters drinking?

CTV look like complete wannabes who used their money to buy something which cannot be purchased - history, class and nostalgia. The creator of this song comes off even worse, giving in to the highest bidder after another network made her rich over the years.

Use you head dudes.

 
At 8:47 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only positive that could come out of this is that CTV spent so much money that they can no longer afford Pierre McGuire and we no longer have to hear him.

 
At 10:36 PM, June 09, 2008, Anonymous ken said...

Please, anonymous, don't tease me like that. If only that were true.

 
At 10:59 PM, June 09, 2008, Blogger Delicious said...

As I said at Puck Daddy, I believe that the CBC should proceed to buy "Brass Bonanza".

 
At 12:50 AM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Scarlett said...

Good, Claman can extort CTV/TSN instead.

This won't stop me from watching hockey on CBC. I prefer the CBC broadcasts to TSN EVERYDAY!

 
At 1:52 AM, June 10, 2008, Anonymous cynical joe said...

CBC should have bought the rights in perpetuity to the theme 30 years ago. Their short sightedness then, now lends itself to see a piece of their 'brand' ripped away and rubbed in their faces by their business rivals. As a taxpayer I'm glad the CBC didn't pay millions for a theme, but as a hockey watcher I'm also glad I'll still here the theme in a hockey related context. Will it make me tune into TSN more? No, but the times I do tune in it'll be more enjoyable. And thats exactly what CTV/TSN should be doing: adding value to their brand. If the CBC does pay millions for some other song (stompin' Tom Connors) then we'll really know that it wasn't financial reality but just plain old incompetence that cost them.
You think ABC/ESPN doesn't own the rights to the Monday Night Football theme?

 
At 3:56 AM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

CTV look like complete wannabes who used their money to buy something which cannot be purchased - history, class and nostalgia. The creator of this song comes off even worse, giving in to the highest bidder after another network made her rich over the years.

There's considerable debate about whether the CBC paid Claman properly for use of the song. And if $500 per game is what she was paid, that only makes someone rich in a world where the NDP defines "rich."

 
At 3:59 AM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Plus, Claman owned the rights to a song that has been referred to as "Canada's unofficial national anthem."

It would be financially, um, retarded not to sell it to the highest bidder.

I challenge anyone to claim he/she would do differently in similar circumstances.

 
At 8:20 AM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

"It would be financially, um, retarded not to sell it to the highest bidder.

I challenge anyone to claim he/she would do differently in similar circumstances."

It's not like this was an auction in the traditional sense of the word. The whole things reeks of greed. It's a confusing story with tons of conflicting information out there, but this is how it breaks down to me:

1) Lawsuit filed in 2004 by composer
2) Back and forth between the two trying to settle. Offer, counter-offer/ CBC offers $1 million dollars for the rights, she wants 2.5-3 million.
3) June 4th, composer strikes first with the media and announces that CBC will not be renewing the rights. Canadian hockey fans immediately jump on CBC. Facebook groups get created etc.
4) Scott Moore from CBC denies the report and says they're still trying.
5) June 6th, CBC announces the contest for a new theme.
6) CBC brings in Gord Kirke to mediate in a last ditch effort to secure the song after much public outcry.
7) CTV swoops in the back door and lays down the dough.

Don't get me wrong, the CBC isn't the innocent party by any stretch of the imagination. They let it get this far and allowed another network to steal it. They're definitely the lesser of the two evils though. TSN had the news plastered all over their web site, TV updates and had it as their lead story on SportsCentre. They're acting like a saviour to the canadian public and it's coming off as self serving, greedy and malicious.

When is Ron Maclean's contract with CBC up? There's no doubt in my mind that CTV goes after him as soon as they can because at this point in time he's the face of HNIC.

 
At 10:11 AM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

Does anyone seriously think that Canadians will someday come to associate that song with Wednesday night Leafs hockey, or the parade of shows that will eventually follow?

It worked for Saturday night Leafs hockey for 40 years.

I dunno, the way I look at it, I'm glad the HNIC song has found a loving home, but it's not gonna be the same, and everyone knows it. I just don't think it's really necessary to slam CTV/TSN for making a sensible business decision. Slam them for the self-serving coverage, slam them for the retarded analysts, whatever, but stuff like I've quoted there really doesn't add anything to the discussion.

When is Ron Maclean's contract with CBC up? There's no doubt in my mind that CTV goes after him as soon as they can because at this point in time he's the face of HNIC.

I would not be surprised to see CTV go for the gold and try to purchase the rights to the HNIC name outright in the next 10-15 years. I never thought CBC would give up the Grey Cup, either, but hey, times change.

 
At 11:34 AM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

I dunno, the way I look at it, I'm glad the HNIC song has found a loving home, but it's not gonna be the same, and everyone knows it. I just don't think it's really necessary to slam CTV/TSN for making a sensible business decision. Slam them for the self-serving coverage, slam them for the retarded analysts, whatever, but stuff like I've quoted there really doesn't add anything to the discussion.

Do you really think it's a sensible business decision though? Obviously CTV does or they wouldn't have purchased the rights. I can see it being smart if they actually did purchase the whole shebang - the HNIC name, the graphics, the personnel, the song, etc - but HNIC will still be going strong on another network. They're coming off as wannabes to me, shitting on tradition when they claim to be doing us a favor. I wish the rest of the canadian hockey viewing public would feel the same but it seems everyone is falling for CTV's spiel. Prove me wrong fellow Canadians!

In the end it's only a flippin song but the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

 
At 2:24 PM, June 10, 2008, Blogger itchit said...

@matt - I appreciate your passion for the cbc. Unfortunately, it seems the cbc's sport coverage is slowly dying and ctv/tsn is growing to fill the void. It may just be Darwin's survival of the fittest.
I think the cbc may be guilty of a little bit more than just letting another network steal the song. I think the cbc owed Mrs. Claman money for using her song in ways outside the contract. Why would she sign a lowball offer when the cbc itself is not owning up to what she is already owed? Wouldn't anyone sell out to ctv when it seems the cbc is more than happy to shaft you?
I do agree with you about the gall of TSN to report it has "saved" and "rescued" the song. Their self serving wording came off as a little less than honest and certainly struck an ugly chord with me.
also- I think selling to the highest bidder usually does reek of greed. I don't think you answered Art V.'s challenge that you would do differently in similar circumstances.

 
At 4:09 PM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

@ itchit, Art.V -

My passion isn't really for the CBC, in fact at times I think the place is run by a group of 4 year olds. My passion is for hockey and the tradition that comes along with it - I'm a CentreIce package subscriber so I watch tons and tons of hockey on all different TV networks. If CBC is going to drop hockey and other sporting from it's schedule, then so be it. This isn't about that.

As for Art V.'s challenge about whether any of us would do the same as Mrs. Claman. First of all, money makes the world go 'round, makes good people do bad things, makes bad people do good things and everything in between. No one can 100% say what they would do in this situation unless they find themselves under the same circumstances. But lets break it down -

Mrs. Claman was made a rich woman by this song. Not "NDP rich" as you cleverly said, but stinking rich. If the number of $500 for every time the song was played is true then let's assume she makes ~$5000 a month during the regular season and that's being conservative. 9 month season X $5000 X 40 years = 1.8 million. Now lets add in the playoffs. $15000 a week (more games, ads etc) X 8 weeks X 40 years = 4.8 million. Pocket change right? This doesn't even include all things that the song is used for. She also wrote the Ontario song... RICH!

Maybe CBC didn't pay her at times when they were supposed to, and I agree, that isn't right. Until a court decides that fact we can't say anything. Maybe they have overpaid her, who knows?

Do I think I would do the same in her shoes? If I made almost 7 million dollars (again, conservative) and was continuing to get paid for work I did 40 years ago, which I do understand is industry standard, I would be content with the deal that made me rich and I would show at least a drop of loyalty towards the company that made it all possible. After all, it's a classic because of the 40 years of hockey tradition behind it, not because it's a musical masterpiece.

 
At 5:34 PM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

Do you really think it's a sensible business decision though? Obviously CTV does or they wouldn't have purchased the rights. I can see it being smart if they actually did purchase the whole shebang - the HNIC name, the graphics, the personnel, the song, etc - but HNIC will still be going strong on another network. They're coming off as wannabes to me, shitting on tradition when they claim to be doing us a favor. I wish the rest of the canadian hockey viewing public would feel the same but it seems everyone is falling for CTV's spiel. Prove me wrong fellow Canadians!

In the end it's only a flippin song but the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


While it would be superficial to suggest that people would watch for the song, it's definitely a good branding decision, in tandem with the increased Canadian presence on Wednesday nights as part of their new deal. Obviously, it's not the coup that buying the whole kit and kaboodle -- name, graphics, personnel, and most importantly, time slot -- would have been, but it's clearly gotten them a PR victory, based on early returns, and some exposure for their new, higher-CanCon NHL lineup. Okay, the self-gratification they've been displaying has been as comical as it's been disgusting, but I can't entirely blame them for being a bit full of themselves at the moment.

I think "shitting on tradition" is a bit of a strong term for it. CBC fucked up. They failed in their ostensible mandate to be at the forefront of the preservation and promotion of Canadian culture; maybe not in a huge way in this particular instance -- whatever it's become now, it's still just one song -- but coupled with the CFL and Olympic losses, the curling fiasco, and the whole business with their musical properties, it's a symptom of a larger problem with the CBC: shortsightedness and a need to make money over doing what I always understood to be their damned jobs. Is CTV to blame for seeing a golden opportunity and swooping in to "save the song?" Is Dolores Claman to blame for trying to get her fair share for writing "The Hockey Theme?" Hardly. It may not seem right, and goodness knows I don't like it any more than anyone else does, but welcome to the 21st century.

Mrs. Claman was made a rich woman by this song. Not "NDP rich" as you cleverly said, but stinking rich. If the number of $500 for every time the song was played is true then let's assume she makes ~$5000 a month during the regular season and that's being conservative. 9 month season X $5000 X 40 years = 1.8 million. Now lets add in the playoffs. $15000 a week (more games, ads etc) X 8 weeks X 40 years = 4.8 million. Pocket change right? This doesn't even include all things that the song is used for. She also wrote the Ontario song... RICH!

What? First of all, the $500/use deal is only for this past contract, i.e. 1998-2008. Next, a nine-month season includes the playoffs, so let's not get carried away. Furthermore, your jump in estimates goes from $5000/mo to $15k/week? What? There's up to two weeks of heavy hockey action, as the CBC averages three games over two days during the first round. After that, things calm down considerably, until the Cup finals, when there's only one game every two days, or about the same amount of coverage as a three-game evening (triple-header or regional Game One split). That is not a twelve-fold increase at any time, never mind total.

For the game broadcasts, we're talking about ~130 per year, or $65,000, which is what the CBC offered. That is not "rich" money. That's middle-class money, at best. Obviously, this number does not include advertisements (which is at the heart of the lawsuit, if I understand correctly), so over that last contract, she made $650,000, or about the same amount that Brett Lebda made last season. The $3.5 million CTV paid her would be the equivalent of 538 1/2 years under the CBC contract. The woman was not going to get rich by the CBC in her lifetime, or anyone else's.

After all, it's a classic because of the 40 years of hockey tradition behind it, not because it's a musical masterpiece.

It's still a classy tune. It probably only survived this long because of HNIC, but let's not get into artistic merit, here.

(Also, may I just say there are way too damned many Matts in the hockey blogosphere. Y'all need to start putting last names or blog names in your handles so I can tell you people apart.)

 
At 6:27 PM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

This is good... This posts are making me feel slightly better about this whole mess and I appreciate the replies.

What? First of all, the $500/use deal is only for this past contract, i.e. 1998-2008. Next, a nine-month season includes the playoffs, so let's not get carried away. Furthermore, your jump in estimates goes from $5000/mo to $15k/week? What? There's up to two weeks of heavy hockey action, as the CBC averages three games over two days during the first round. After that, things calm down considerably, until the Cup finals, when there's only one game every two days, or about the same amount of coverage as a three-game evening (triple-header or regional Game One split). That is not a twelve-fold increase at any time, never mind total.

Thanks for the heads up about the 98-08 contract, I missed that. I was under the impression that the contract was "per-use" as opposed to per broadcast. This makes a huge difference since CBC used the song religiously (opening, commercial book ends, ads, promos etc). Can anyone clarify? For that matter, does anyone have actual facts on the amount CBC has paid over the years?

I think "shitting on tradition" is a bit of a strong term for it. CBC fucked up. They failed in their ostensible mandate to be at the forefront of the preservation and promotion of Canadian culture; maybe not in a huge way in this particular instance -- whatever it's become now, it's still just one song -- but coupled with the CFL and Olympic losses, the curling fiasco, and the whole business with their musical properties, it's a symptom of a larger problem with the CBC: shortsightedness and a need to make money over doing what I always understood to be their damned jobs. Is CTV to blame for seeing a golden opportunity and swooping in to "save the song?" Is Dolores Claman to blame for trying to get her fair share for writing "The Hockey Theme?" Hardly. It may not seem right, and goodness knows I don't like it any more than anyone else does, but welcome to the 21st century.

I think we need to separate two things as we continue to discuss. On one hand we have the stupidity of CBC to let this happen, which in turn opened the door for 2) CTV buying the rights. One can't happen without the other, but I can still say "CTV is shitting on tradition" while agreeing that CBC is dumb for letting it happen. Think of it this way. If MacDonald's deciding to stop using the "I'm Lovin' It" jingle and Burger King decides to buy the rights and starts airing commercials the next day with the song, is that a smart marketing decision?

 
At 7:54 PM, June 10, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

I think CBC only paid the $65K (ish) for game usage, and that the rest of the uses are the subject of the protracted litigation. I can't confirm that, obviously, but it seems like a reasonable guess.

I don't think the comparison of McDonald's and Burger King is terribly apt, since those jingles, at least to me, evoke greasy burgers of that particular brand, and it would be suicide for each to swipe the other's marketing song. The HNIC song, on the other hand, does evoke memories of HNIC, but more generally of hockey itself, and I think that's a key distinction, at least to me. CTV wants the cachet that comes with the song, and feels that its status as a culturally resonant song in Canada outweighs the simple branding of which show it served for 40 years.

I think a more apt analogy, at least for your feelings on the subject, might be if Battlestar Galactica suddenly started using the Doctor Who theme song for its broadcasts. Everyone knows the Doctor Who song (especially in Britain), it's been around since 1963, and it evokes not only images of the Doctor(s), the TARDIS, Daleks, and all that other stuff, but also just general spooky alien things. It would also be a horrific idea that would piss off everyone and make no bloody sense.

 

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