So last night was the Leafs’ last game before heading into the All Star break this weekend. I had the night off, but I didn’t watch it, or rather I couldn’t watch it. Why?
Because it was on Leafs TV. Leafs TV is what is known in the direct satellite and digital cable industry as a Category 2 specialty channel. One of the major differences between Category 2 and Category 1 channels (Independent Film Channel, Biography Channel, OUTtv) is that the former do NOT have to be carried by all Canadian satellite and cable companies, while the latter do.
This distinction means that every regional satellite or cable company can decide whether or not they want to carry Leafs TV with no pressure from the CRTC to do so. My digital cable supplier – Bell – decided not to. I called up Jeremy* from Bell Canada today to see if he knew why. Here’s what we discussed**:
“Hi, Jeremy, I just have a quick question for you, more a curiosity than anything else. Why is Leafs TV not available here in Vancouver?”
“Well, Leafs TV is a channel that is directed towards a Toronto audience. We don’t even offer it in some parts of Ontario.”
“But Jeremy, you offer Raptors TV here in Vancouver. Isn’t that channel directed towards a Toronto audience as well?”
“Uh, no, since there aren’t any other basketball teams in Canada, the station is geared towards a more national audience.”
“So what you’re saying is that the Canucks, Flames, Oilers, Senators and Canadians are screwing me. Is that what you’re saying, Jeremy?”
“I just work here, sir.”
“Well, you’re doing a fine job, Goodbye.”
So, it appears that until the other five Canadian teams follow the path south with the Coyotes and Nordiques, I’m left only with the rare nationally televised game on TSN and ol’ faithful, Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada (don’t even get me started on Sportsnet and their blackouts).
*I think that was his name; the connection wasn’t very good (talk about irony).
**Some paraphrasing was used.