This week on the CHML radio chat with Scott Thompson, we needle CBC for being too stupid to hold on to a theme song. Listen to the discussion here.
That CTV was going to steal the Hockey Night in Canada theme was about as obvious and predictable as the Leafs not making the playoffs. But only CBC could let this fester into one of the most embarrassing network PR disasters since, well, since that time they tried to can Ron MacLean.
Sure, it is just a song. But what CBC network executives do not appear to get is that tradition and ritual are things you just never want to give away in television.
Maybe some CBC execs should do what I just did on Monday–fly down to New York and take in a Yankees game. This is the last year the Bronx Bombers will be playing in Yankee Stadium, which is major league baseball’s third-oldest ball park. A new field is nearing completion just across the street and while it will seat slightly fewer fans it will have plenty of those money making corporate boxes and other modern amenities.
Many of the design elements of the old stadium are being incorporated into the new field, including those famous friezes. There will also be a museum inside the new joint complete with bits and piece from the original, including locker room goodies.
What struck me as I watched a game there Monday (played in 96 degree heat as Yankees fell 3-2 to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs) was how traditional and low-tech everything was. Before the game, fans stood at attention to a recording of the late Metropolitan Opera star Robert Merrill singing the Star Spangled Banner. Later, during the seventh inning stretch, another decades old recording is played, this time of Kate Smith (right) singing “God Bless America.”
As corny as these songs must sound to Blue Jays fans used to the frenzied light and sound shows at the Rogers Centre, it all works for Yankee fans. It was surprisingly touching to stand and listen as thousands throughout the upper and lower decks of the fabled stadium sang right along with the 50-plus-year-old Smith recording. Clearly these fans loved that ritual and anybody who dared try and update it would quickly get doused with a beer to the head.
That’s what CBC doesn’t get. Hockey in Canada is a religion and you don’t mess with the opening hymn–unless you want to drive the faithful to another church.


  1. well said Bill, nice analogy….

    the clever minds at the CBC thought they could make Dolores Claman’s law suit go away by threatening to not renew their licensing deal for the HNIC theme….

    Scott Moore, the amateur who is “running” CBC Sports, ended up giving away the rights to the most important branding in CBC history to their broadcast rival CTV, and the CBC is still being sued for $2.5 million plus legal fees and interest…..

    Scott Moore will forever be known as the guy who scored on his own net in overtime….

  2. If you ask me, this is a perfect example of how the people in charge are devaluing both of these networks.

    In the last year, CBC sports has lost the Olympics, CFL football and a hockey anthem one of their execs called “window dressing”. I wonder if it was the same guy who put the license agreement in jeopardy by selling ringtones that don’t appear to have been a part of the original contract.

    The message to sports fans is “We don’t really care about you or what you felt was an important element of your viewing experience.”

    Meanwhile, CTV buys a song that’ll remind everybody of HNIC (and CBC) every time they hear it, as part of the same process that has Brian Williams and the rest of the former CBC broadcast team coming over to do the Olympics. Their clear message is, “We don’t have any ideas of our own.”

    Networks need viewers to be aware of their brand, not confused as to which channel they’re watching, or frankly, simply stopping to care where they get their sports.

    And in this business, apathy isn’t good for anybody.

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