Curling still good scheduling fit for TSN

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Better late than never.

Finally, the curling TV deal that everyone wanted has been signed, sealed and delivered.

The Canadian Curling Association announced yesterday a three-year agreement that puts a minimum of two weekday draws (afternoon and evening) on TSN for the Canadian Olympic curling trials, Scott Tournament of Hearts, Tim Hortons Brier and Ford world women's championships.

CBC will carry all the action on championship weekends.

In other words, it's pretty darned close to the way it used to be. And it should bring an end to the acrimony of last season, when curling fans fumed about night draws split between The Score and the digital CBC Country Canada.

Though the contract was only signed late Wednesday night, TSN president Phil King said his network "had a really good sense a deal was in the offing" and tried to build its cumbersome NHL schedule around potential curling dates.

NBA scheduling was also put on hold pending a curling agreement.

"We took a chance," said King, adding tape delaying of night draws shouldn't be too severe this season. "We think we can schedule around (curling) in the future.

"If there's a curling event in the East, we can schedule an NHL game in the West (and vice versa)."

Most of the tape delays should occur on Wednesdays, when TSN has a regular NHL window, and Mondays, when wrestling holds court.

Morning draw coverage beyond this season is a good possibility, King added.

PUCK DROPPINGS: The NHL is still booming in TV land. CBC's Hockey Night in Canada pulled in an audience of 1.94 million for last Saturday's Canadiens-Maple Leafs telecast -- the third-highest regular-season number ever. The nightcap (Flames-Oilers) also fared well: 1.218 million viewers ... Over on TSN, an impressive 569,000 viewers tuned into Tuesday's Canadiens-Bruins telecast. That was even higher than the Habs audience on RDS.

AROUND THE DIAL: Hockey Night's first high-definition telecast of the season is set for Nov. 5, when the Tampa Bay Lightning are in Toronto ... With the Red Sox and Yankees out, Fox' ratings for the League Championship Series were down 33% this season. The overall playoff average has slipped 23%.


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