Sportsnet purchases Grand Slam curling rights
By JIM BENDER, QMI Agency
|Sportsnet has purchased television rights to Grand Slam of Curling events, which will feature -- amongst others -- Jennifer Jones' rink. (Perry Mah/QMI Agency/Files)
WINNIPEG - Sportsnet has indeed saved the curling day for elite curlers in Canada.
Sportsnet confirmed reports it has purchased the Grand Slam series on Thursday and will be establishing a new events division. Series events will be broadcast by both Sportsnet and CBC-TV through a sub-licensing agreement. More games will also be televised at each Slam event.
“Curling is an essential part of our Canadian sports fabric, and the Grand Slam of Curling is the cream of the crop in international curling events,” Scott Moore, president, broadcasting of Rogers Media said in a release. “Sportsnet intends to grow the Grand Slam of Curling like never before.”
CBC-TV pulled out of its agreement with the Slam midway through last season due to a reported controversy over payment, or lack thereof. The series would have likely died without TV to broadcast the lucrative events, which would have had a major effect on both the development of the game for elite curlers of the future and qualifying for the Canadian Curling Trials.
“On behalf of the Grand Slam players, we are thrilled to welcome Sportsnet as the new owners of the Grand Slam of Curling,” said World Competitive Curlers Association president Pierre Charette. “This is great news for the Canadian curling community as a whole. Sportsnet will operate events that are second-to-none, broadcast more games and take the Grand Slam of Curling to another level.”
Manitoba’s Mike McEwen, Jeff Stoughton and Rob Fowler were regulars on the Slam series last season.
“Welcome back to the Grand Slam @Sportsnet! Pumped to have u at helm & very exciting time to play #curling at a top level!” McEwen tweeted.
Sportsnet televised the events when the Slam first started back in 2001-02.
“We’re happy to be partnering with Rogers,” said Jeffrey Orridge, executive director sports properties, CBC English services. “This is great news for curling fans across the country.”
The series, however, may be reduced to three events from the usual four, at least for this season. The purses will remain about $100,000.
The 2012-13 Slam series will kick off with The Masters in Brantford, Ont., Nov. 14-18, where 32 men’s and 32 women’s teams will compete.
This move could also turn out to be good timing for Sportsnet should there be an NHL lockout and fans starving to see a local winter sport on TV.