TVA Sports is a Canadian French-language specialty channel owned by the Groupe TVA, a publicly traded subsidiary of Quebecor Media. The channel is a general-interest sports network, and the first major competitor to RDS, the only other French-language sports channel in the country.
|Launched||September 12, 2011|
|Owned by||Groupe TVA|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Shaw Direct||Channel 747 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 390 / 238 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 393 / 235 (TVAS2) (HD)
Channel 399 / 236 (TVAS3) (HD)
|Bell TV||Channel 193 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 1883 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 1884 (TVAS2) (HD)
Channel 1885 (TVAS3) (HD)
|Cogeco (Ontario)||Channel 527 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 531 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 582 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 585 (TVAS2) (HD)
|Cogeco (Quebec)||Channel 88 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 158 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 538 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 548 (TVAS2) (HD)
Channel 175 (TVAS3) (SD)
Channel 547 (TVAS3) (HD)
|EastLink||Channel 1015 (TVAS1) (HD)|
Channel 1016 (TVAS2) (HD)
|Rogers Cable||Channel 656 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 657 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 661 (TVAS2) (HD)
|Vidéotron||Channel 23 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 24 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 199 (TVAS3) (SD)
Channel 623 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 624 (TVAS2) (HD)
Channel 680 (TVAS3) (HD)
|Bell Aliant Fibe TV||Channel 824 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 825 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 924 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 925 (TVAS2) (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 111 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 112 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 129 (TVAS3) (SD)
Channel 1111 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 1112 (TVAS2) (HD)
Channel 1113 (TVAS3) (HD)
|Bell MTS||Channel 197 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 1197 (TVAS1) (HD)
|Optik TV||Channel 8085 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 8086 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 2085 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 2086 (TVAS2) (HD)
|SaskTel||Channel 259 (TVAS1) (SD)|
|Telus Quebec||Channel 24 (TVAS1) (SD)|
Channel 36 (TVAS2) (SD)
Channel 524 (TVAS1) (HD)
Channel 525 (TVAS2) (HD)
|VMedia||Channel 93 (TVAS1) (SD) (ON)|
Channel 20 (TVAS1) (SD) (QC)
Channel 21 (TVAS2) (HD) (QC)
Channel 22 (TVAS3) (HD) (QC)
|Zazeen||Channel 232 (TVAS1) (HD)|
Channel 233 (TVAS2) (HD)
|Vodalink||Channel 620 (TVAS1) (HD)|
Channel 621 (TVAS2) (HD)
TVA Sports obtains much of its programming via sub-licensing and resource-sharing agreements with the English-language network Sportsnet and its owner Rogers Communications. As of the 2014-15 season, TVA Sports is the national French-language broadcaster of the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer in Canada (the latter including the league's expansion club, the Montreal Impact), and also carries coverage of the Canadian Hockey League, Toronto Blue Jays baseball, and other events.
The formation of TVA Sports was first announced at a press event in May 2011, where TVA announced its plans for the network, and some of its launch programming. TVA made numerous efforts to acquire content for the network in the years prior to the launch; including Quebecor's failed attempt to purchase a stake in the Montreal Canadiens, and the company's backing of a proposed National Hockey League expansion franchise in Quebec City—which included acquiring naming and management rights to a new arena in Quebec City built to potentially house a new or relocated NHL team.
On August 18, 2011, Rogers Media, owners of the English-language sports channel Sportsnet, announced that it would partner with TVA Sports to provide production resources, and sub-licensing of French-language rights to some of Sportsnet's event programming. Rogers had obtained CRTC approval for its own French-language sports network prior to the announcement.
Event programming aired by TVA Sports includes the Montreal Impact (24 games during the 2012 season), Toronto Blue Jays baseball (60 games during the 2012 season), the Canadian Hockey League, as well as Toronto Raptors basketball games, plus other NBA matches, including the playoffs and Finals. TVA Sports aired French-language coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi through a sub-licensing deal with Radio-Canada. In 2013, again in tandem with Sportsnet, TVA Sports acquired French-language rights to the IndyCar Series.
On January 10, 2017, TVA Sports acquired national French-language rights to Major League Soccer.
On November 26, 2013, Rogers announced that it had reached a 12-year, $5.2 billion deal to become the exclusive national rightsholder for the National Hockey League, beginning in the 2014-15 season. Quebecor Media sub-licensed national French-language rights to the league for $110 million per season, making TVA Sports the official French-language broadcaster of the NHL. RDS retains regional rights to Montreal Canadiens games not broadcast by TVA Sports. Former Montreal Canadiens goalie José Theodore joined the network as an analyst.
NHL games occupy a significant portion of TVA Sports' programming during the season, with a particular emphasis on the Canadiens and other teams popular in Quebec, such as the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. TVA Sports' flagship Saturday night broadcast, La super soirée LNH, airs 22 Montreal Canadiens games per season, along with a second game on TVA Sports 2. TVA Sports also airs the All-Star Game, Winter Classic, and Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Prior to its full NHL rights package, TVA Sports carried a package of Ottawa Senators hockey games (25 games during the 2011-12 season). From its launch until 2015, TVA Sports carried French-language coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Ultimate Fighting Championship events. Rights to both have since been acquired by Bell Media and RDS.
Major carriers which added TVA Sports on launch included national satellite provider Shaw Direct, and regional cable provider Vidéotron (which is also owned by Quebecor Media, TVA's parent company). A carriage deal with Bell TV for TVA Sports was announced on November 22, 2011, part of a deal that also included Bell TV carriage of Mlle, Yoopa, and Sun News Network (Bell TV dropped the latter channel the previous May in a carriage dispute with Quebecor). Optik TV added TVA Sports on September 15, 2014 and Bell's FibreOP TV added it on September 24, 2014.
Carriage dispute with Bell
Since 2017, Bell has been in a carriage dispute with Quebecor over TVA Sports, which has included several instigations of the CRTC's "Final offer arbitration" (FOA) process; Quebecor attempted to negotiate a higher wholesale carriage fee for the channel (from $3.59 to $5.02 per-subscriber, which other providers, including Videotron, have agreed to), arguing that its recent content acquisitions and increasing viewership made TVA Sports roughly equivalent or better in value to television subscribers than RDS (which is owned by Bell through its broadcasting division Bell Media). Quebecor argued that RDS was receiving higher wholesale rates and better carriage because it is an older and established service, dating back to analog cable, and objected to the CRTC's arbitration process including "historic rates" as a factor in its decisions (which they felt perpetuated said bias).
Bell, however, felt that the fee increase was unjustified, as TVA Sports' expenses had remained roughly "constant" since 2015, and the network had "not materially increased" its value since its last carriage renewal (which did see an increase in carriage fees justified by its acquisition of national NHL rights). Bell argued that TVA Sports' ratings depended on "big ticket sports programming with high ratings volatility", while RDS had a stronger market share and larger rights portfolio (including regional French-language rights to the Canadiens and Senators). Bell also noted that much of TVA Sports' carriage was in bilingual or Anglophone markets, where the value of its programming is diluted by audience preferences towards English-language broadcasts (due to the smaller Francophone audience, French-language specialty channels are usually sold with lower per-subscriber rates outside of Quebec).
In a FOA case completed on January 17, 2018, the CRTC ruled in favour of Bell. Quebecor subsequently accused Bell TV of displaying undue preference to its co-owned networks in the packaging of its services. In a complaint with the CRTC, and a lawsuit in a Quebec court, Quebecor noted that TVA Sports was carried by Bell TV on its "Meilleur" ("Better") package, but that the Bell-owned RDS was carried on the entry-level "Bon" ("Good") package, which has a wider subscriber base. When originally negotiating with Bell to carry TVA Sports, Quebecor did mandate that it be carried on the same service tier as RDS's secondary feed RDS2, but did not mandate it be placed on the same tier as RDS.
The dispute intensified prior to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs: in a move reminiscent of carriage disputes in the United States, Quebecor began an advertising campaign in April 2019 to attack Bell, including websites in English and French (fairvalue.ca and justevaleur.ca) that publicized its arguments. The company estimated that it would receive at least $500,000 per-month in additional revenue if Bell carried TVA Sports on the same service tier as it does for RDS, and called upon the company to respect the "fair value" of its specialty channels. Bell has argued that this would increase the cost of the service. Quebecor also noted that Bell-owned channels (including former Astral networks) had a roughly 49% market share of subscriber revenue out of all Francophone specialty channels.
During the April 7, 2019 Montreal Canadiens game on TVA Sports (which was the final game of their season, having failed to reach the playoffs), the network displayed an on-screen notice stating that Quebecor would pull TVA Sports from Bell on April 10, 2019—the opening night of the playoffs, and that Bell was henceforth "punishing" its subscribers by not meeting its demands. The same notice was displayed during La Voix on TVA the following night. It is against CRTC rules for the owner of a specialty channel to pull its signal from a television provider during a standstill in carriage negotiations (during which time the channel may continue to be carried under the existing contract terms until a decision is made). Bell issued a press release condemning Quebecor's "reckless campaign and illegal actions", and filed a request for another round of CRTC arbitration.
Nonetheless, Quebecor followed through with its threat and pulled TVA Sports from Bell on April 10, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. ET, just as coverage of the playoffs began. As compensation, Bell stated that it would offer Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, and Sportsnet One free to all affected subscribers until the dispute is resolved, so that viewers would have access to the English-language broadcasts. The CRTC stated that it was "ready to use the means at its disposal" to enforce its regulations. On April 11, as Bell sought an injunction, Quebecor made an offer to restore the channel until April 23, amidst continued negotiations. However, Bell would only accept this offer if it were enforced via court order. The same day, RDS's English parent network TSN (the national English-language rightsholder of Major League Soccer) announced that it would add two additional Montreal Impact matches to its broadcast schedule in April, accompanied by a free preview of TSN, once again as an alternative to the French-language broadcasts on TVA Sports.
On April 12, 2019, the Quebec Superior Court granted Bell a temporary injunction ordering Quebecor to restore Bell's access to the TVA Sports signals by 6:00 p.m. that day, through at least April 23. A public hearing was held by the CRTC on April 17, 2019; Bell senior vice-president of regulatory affairs Robert Malcolmson stated that Quebecor's actions were illegal and "an affront to viewers, to the commission and the rest of the participants in the broadcasting system who play by the rules." He called for the CRTC to suspend TVA Sports' broadcast licenses through the end of June (ensuring that it would not be able to broadcast the remainder of the playoffs), if not revoke the license entirely. Malcolmson also expressed concerns that Quebecor could pull TVA Sports from Bell once again after the injunction expires on the 23rd. Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau argued that they needed to be "equitably compensated" to ensure the survival of their networks, that current policies unfairly benefited the dominant Bell, and that the channel may be forced to cease operations entirely if it is unable to receive "reasonable" carriage fees that can cover its operating losses.
On April 18, 2019, the CRTC issued a mandatory order directing Quebecor not to pull TVA Sports' signals from Bell again, threatening that the channel's license would be suspended "for the duration of time that the signal is not provided", and that Quebecor could be held in contempt of court, if it illegally pulled the signal again. On April 26, 2019, Bell filed a lawsuit against Quebecor for $150 million, accusing the company of engaging in "monopoly behaviour" and using "diversionary tactics" rather than accept its offers to negotiate. In June 2019, the Federal Court of Appeal agreed to hear the Quebecor case.
As a Category C service, TVA Sports is permitted to operate multiple feeds.
- Magder, Jason. "New TVA Sports channel takes a shot at RDS". The Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- Pollard, Dave. "TVA Sports partners up with Sportsnet". The Toronto Sun. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "Rogers gears up for French sports channel". Calgary Sun. QMI Agency. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- TVA Sports gets CHL rights Toronto Sun 2011-08-26
- "New NHL TV deal a shot in the arm for TVA Sports". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
- Vlessing, Etan (14 July 2011). "Quebecor Media Wins Montreal Impact TV Rights". The Hollywood Reporter.
- TVA Sports Signs With Raps, NBA
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- "Blanketing Canada with in-depth series coverage". IndyCar.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
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- "UFC reaches Canadian broadcast deal with TSN, RDS". Postmedia News. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
UFC reaches Canadian broadcast deal with TSN, RDS
- "TSN, RDS, and Fight Network become new Canadian home for UFC". TSN.ca. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- "TSN, RDS announce new media rights agreement for Champions League, Europa League". TSN.ca. 2014-12-19. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Quebecor, BCE settle spat over news channel," from The Globe and Mail, 11/22/2011
- Faguy, Steve. "TVA Sports defies CRTC, cuts off Bell TV customers as part of carriage dispute". Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- "Final offer arbitration request by Quebecor Media Inc. regarding the distribution of TVA Sports by Bell TV". crtc.gc.ca. CRTC. 2018-01-17. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- Faguy, Steve. "Bell vs. TVA Sports: Breaking down the arguments". Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- "Quebec's TVA Sports pulled its signal from Bell despite the CRTC warning it not to". Awful Announcing. 2019-04-11. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
- "Quebecor takes fight with Bell over TVA Sports into public arena". Montreal Gazette with files from the Canadian Press. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- "TVA Sports signal goes black for Bell TV subscribers, contravening CRTC orders". CTV News Montreal. Bell Media. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
- Codère, Jean-François. "Conflit entre Québecor et Bell : pas de trêve". La Presse (in French). Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- "Quebecor proposes a truce in battle with Bell over TVA Sports channel". CBC News. April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
- Lovitz, Daniel; Images, Getty (2019-04-11). "TSN adding Montreal Impact's April 13th and 20th games". TSN. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- "Quebecor head Pierre Karl Péladeau says future of TVA Sports in jeopardy if Bell gets its way". CBC News. April 17, 2019. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- "Judge orders Quebecor to stop scrambling TVA Sports signal for Bell TV subscribers". Global News. Canadian Press. 2019-04-12. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- CODÈRE, JEAN-FRANÇOIS. "TVA Sports: Québecor sommé de réactiver le signal pour les abonnés de Bell". La Presse (in French). Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- "CRTC says Quebecor must maintain TVA Sports signal to Bell subscribers". Global News. 2019-04-18. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
- Thiessen, Connie (2019-04-26). "Bell slaps Quebecor with $150M lawsuit". Broadcast Dialogue. Retrieved 2019-04-28.
- "Court of Appeal to hear Quebecor case over TVA Sports/Bell dispute". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. 2019-06-19. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
- Faguy, Steve. "TVA Sports to expand to three feeds during NHL playoffs". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
| NHL French network broadcast partner
2014 - present