Rockin' in the online world

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

Curling fans, it's been made rather clear in the past year, are a passionate lot.

Just ask the CBC and Canadian Curling Association, who got an earful -- and then some -- from the roarin' game's most fervent supporters over last season's ill-fated broadcast deal.

Not that David Nedohin needed any reminder about the connection between Canadians and curling.

"I've always known about (that) passion," said Nedohin, who throws skip stones for Randy Ferbey's world champion rink. "But certainly last year, the curling fan stepped up and said we want to see it a certain way and we want to see more of it."

Enter CurlTV.com, which has offered even the most ardent supporters more of their favourite game than they ever imagined possible.

Since the beginning of October, the Internet-based channel has provided live streaming of World Curling Tour events for a subscription fee.

Eventually, everything you see will be archived, allowing the curling fan to call up and view any match whenever he or she wants. A curling video-on-demand service, if you will.

(Note: All of this is available only to Windows users at the moment).

Curl.TV is the brainchild of Nedohin, Chris Sealy and StatusFirm, their Edmonton-based interactive broadcast company.

"We had thought about launching an online sports network ... for a niche market with enough interest," said Nedohin. "For me, the obvious answer was curling."

SPORTSNET SHOW

Starting Nov. 27, their project will cross over into the conventional television world. That's the launch date for Curl TV, a half-hour magazine show that will air eight straight Sundays at noon on Rogers Sportsnet.

The show is being produced by Aquila Productions, the Edmonton subsidiary of Insight Sports, which has also had a hand in the online broadcasts.

StatusFirm sees the TV show as an opportunity to drum up more interest for the web channel. Sportsnet, meanwhile, likes the synergy between CurlTV.com and the four WCT Grand Slam events, for which it broadcasts the final weekend draws.

"That's one of the reasons we were motivated to get involved ... their association with the World Curling Tour," said David Akande, Sportsnet's senior VP of programming.

Sportsnet has done well ratings-wise with the Grand Slams, Akande said, proving there's a market for curling beyond the Brier and Scott Tournament of Hearts.

"When we first started doing these events, people said it was a flash in the pan," he said. "People thought there were only two events for men that were TV worthy (the Brier and worlds) ... but there is room for these (WCT) events."

Nedohin and Co. believe the appetite is even greater than that.

"There's not nearly the volume of curling on TV that fans want to see," he said. "We're building on that."

BRIER PRESENCE

CurlTV.com plans to have a presence at the Brier, Scott and upcoming Olympic trials.

"We'll do interviews, some behind the scenes stuff," said Nedohin. "You'll be able to follow the event a little more than what you see on TV."

He also sees opportunities beyond curling. StatusFirm put together a series from Wayne Gretzky's fantasy camp (GretzkyTV.com), and plans are in the works to launch two more channels in the spring.

"Over the next few years, you'll see a lot more of this," said Nedohin. "There's a future for broadcasting online."


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