Réseau des sports (commonly known as RDS), is a Canadian French language cable television specialty channel showing sports and sport-related shows. It is available in 2.5 million homes. It is owned by CTV Speciality Television Inc; a division of CTVglobemedia (80%) and ESPN (20%).
It was founded by John Labatt
Ltd., the brewing company. It began broadcasting on September 1
, modelled on the relatively successful TSN. However, it began with a relatively low budget and struggled to obtain rights to major professional sporting events. It gained infamy when it began showing weekly miniature golf
tournaments under the name "Défi Mini-Putt
". The shows energetic announcer, Serge Vleminckx, was renowned for his enthusiastic cries of "Birdie!" when a miniature golfer got a hole in one.
Becoming more established
However, by the early 1990s, the network became more established, obtaining the rights to Montreal Expos
and some Montreal Canadiens
games. Rodger Brulotte
became the network's second broadcasting star with his enthusiastic colour commentary of Expos games. RDS also covered some of Montreal's
other professional sports teams, such as the Montreal Machine WLAF
football team, the Montreal Impact soccer
club, the Montreal Roadrunners roller hockey
team, the Montreal Express lacrosse
team, and the Montreal Alouettes Canadian football
team. While the Machine, Roadrunners, and Express folded, the partnership between RDS and the Impact and Alouettes helped both the network and the teams to become popular. Much of the rise of popularity of Canadian football in Quebec
can be attributed to RDS coverage of Canadian Football League
Its sports commentary and magazine shows, such as Sports 30, have enjoyed some success, although they have faced recent competition from the abrasive TQS sports talk show, 110%.
Its small market (mainly limited to Quebec), however, has meant that its revenues are modest. It has had to offer proportionately modest fees for broadcast rights.
The end of the relationship with the Montreal Expos
In 2000, the Montreal Expos severed their relationship with the network, complaining that they were not offering enough to broadcast games. The network resumed coverage from 2001 until the team moved to Washington, D.C. after the 2004 season, showing about 50 games a season.
2003 Montreal Canadiens deal
Also in 2003, the Montreal Canadiens
announced a deal to licence its French-language broadcast rights for all of its preseason, season, and playoff games to RDS. This was controversial as it threatened the longest-running television show in Quebec, Radio-Canada
's La Soirée du hockey
. Days later, an agreement was reached whereby RDS and Radio-Canada would simultaneously broadcast Canadiens games on Saturday nights, saving the show. Within the province of Quebec, this arrangement stopped after the 2003-04 NHL season
, and French-language Canadiens broadcasts now air only on RDS. Simulcasted coverage continued in regions that do not receive RDS on analog TV (all of Canada south/west of the Ottawa
Region) on Radio-Canada until the 2006-2007 NHL season
. RDS also has French-language rights to the Stanley Cup Finals, regardless of what teams participate. In June 2008, RDS's parent, CTV Inc., acquired the rights to The Hockey Theme
after the CBC decided not to renew its rights to the theme song. A re-orchestrated version of the tune, which has been the theme song
of La Soirée du hockey
and Hockey Night in Canada
since 1968, will be used for hockey broadcasts on RDS and TSN beginning in the fall of 2008.
Noted RDS programming
- Sports news show that provides news and updates regarding major sports in North America and elsewhere.
Canadien Express - Condensed version of the previous Montreal Canadiens hockey game in a 60-minute format.
F1 Express - Similar concept derived from the Canadien Express broadcast.
The Montreal Canadiens hockey game broadcasts vary in name depending of the day of the week. Saturday games are known as Le Hockey du Samedi Soir. Tuesday games are known as Les Méchants Mardis Molson-Ex as all of the other day or night games are known as Le Hockey Subway des Canadiens. The sponsor affiliations change from time to time.
RDS's studios are also home to Réseau Info-Sports
, a 24-hour French language sports news service that was launched in 2005. RDS's sister English language
sports service is The Sports Network
(TSN). Many of the programming theme songs used on RDS are the same as on TSN, except if TSN takes from an American network.
RDS launched an HD edition of the channel on October 3, 2007, in time for the 2007-2008 NHL hockey season, making it the only channel to broadcast all games of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens in HD. Since then, most major sporting events have been broadcast in HD; including Formula One, NASCAR, Montreal Alouettes CFL Football, NFL, MLB, PGA Golf and the Euro 2008 soccer tournament amongst others. RDS currently broadcasts its HD signal in 1080i format.
- Baseball analyst
- Montreal Canadiens Colour Commentator
- CFL/NFL play-by-play
- Montreal Canadiens host / NHL play-by-play
- Montreal Canadiens analyst
- Boxing / RDS.ca contributor
- Soccer play-by-play
- Hockey analyst
- Sports 30 reporter / NHL beat
- Montreal Canadiens play-by-play / Formula 1 lap-by-lap
- Auto racing analyst
- Sports 30 host
- Golf analyst
Michel Y. Lacroix
- Soccer / NHL host
- Sports 30 reporter / NHL beat
- Junior Hockey analyst
- Montreal Canadiens ice level reporter, Sports 30 host
- Boxing analyst
- Hunting and Fishing analyst
- Sports 30 host
- Tennis analyst and 30 Images / Seconde Host
- Tennis analyst
- CFL/NFL analyst
At the end of July 2007, RDS and the Montreal Canadiens extended their exclusive broadcasting rights contract through 2013. The deal includes all of the Canadiens 82 regular season games and all of their playoff games, if need be (none of this precludes CBC Sports
from televising games in English as part of Hockey Night in Canada
). Also, RDS has exclusive rights to French television broadcasting rights for the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Contest, as well as one NHL game per week that does not involve the Canadiens and a minimum of 40 playoff games for either RDS or RIS. The Canadiens also granted RDS exclusive rights to 'new media' coverage for the team (i.e., cell-phone TV, pod-cast and others).
Most other broadcast contracts are acquired through TSN and ESPN.
- RDS Cup - Quebec Major Junior Hockey League "Rookie of the Year" award
Notes and references