WINNIPEG - It appears far from a sure thing that Winnipeg subscribers to MTS TV and Shaw Communications will score the new TSN Jets cable television channel to watch their NHL team’s action.
MTS Allstream is continuing to negotiate with TSN owner Bell Media in hopes of working out a service agreement to offer the specialty channel to its digital TV customers. But slow progress has brought no deal to secure the more than 60 televised Jets games for MTS’s tens of thousands of Winnipeg TV subscribers, while the beginning of the NHL regular season is less than a month away.
“We’re trying to negotiate the best deal for our customers, and for our business,” said MTS spokeswoman Selina Hinds. “We’re not there yet. And I should be clear — there is no guarantee we’re going to get the channel.”
The delay in MTS and Shaw arranging agreements to carry TSN Jets reportedly stem from Bell Media’s asking prices that they find too costly.
“The issues are around pricing and packaging. There hasn’t been any substantive progress in the discussions that we can report right now,” said Hinds. “The offer from TSN, or Bell, still isn’t acceptable to us.”
Shaw Communications and TSN did not return calls for comment.
Jets spokesman Scott Brown said the team remains “hopeful and confident” the channel will find its way into MTS and Shaw subscribers’ homes. He pointed out, however, that the club has no say at this point in how or where it’s offered.
“We’d be a little disappointed if things weren’t worked out right at the beginning of the season, to have everyone able to see the games,” Brown said. “At the same time, we understand our place in the whole process.”
Meanwhile, the separate NHL Centre Ice cable TV service “blacks out” games played by teams that are based in the viewers’ home markets. That means Centre Ice subscribers in Winnipeg will not be able to watch either home or away Jets games on that service.
Less than a week before the Winnipeg Jets play their first pre-season home game and less than a month before their regular NHL season begins Oct. 9, individual tickets — those held back by the team from season subscription purchases — have yet to go on sale.
And the Jets haven’t yet revealed when those tickets — likely no more than a few hundred available for each game — will be sold. But team spokesman Scott Brown said Tuesday that fans clamouring for them don’t have long to wait for an answer.
“There will be an announcement on that issue coming shortly,” he told QMI Agency.