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Réseau des sports (commonly known as RDS), is a Canadianmarker French language cable television specialty channel showing sports and sport-related shows. It is available in 2.5 million homes, and 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, 1989, 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'smarker 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 Quebecmarker can be attributed to RDS coverage of Canadian Football League and university games.

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%.

Modest revenues

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 Ottawamarker Region) on Radio-Canada until the 2006–07 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, has been used for hockey broadcasts on RDS and TSN beginning in the fall of 2008.

Noted RDS programming

Sports 30 - 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 while all of the other day or night games are known as Le Hockey Subway des Canadiens. The sponsor affiliations change from time to time.

"Dubbed" programming

Because very few sporting events broadcast by RDS are carried by any other French language broadcaster, exact simulcasts of other broadcasters on RDS are extremely rare. However, for most events occurring either outside Quebec or not involving Quebec-based teams, RDS will rely on the applicable English-language broadcaster (Canadian or American) for the video feed, including any graphics or game updates in the original feed.

The visuals are then "dubbed" live-to-air with commentators in the RDS studios, who call the game off monitors instead of being on-site. The commentary is not a translation of the English language audio, although the background audio typically remains intact, and relevant information from the English commentary (e.g. injury reports, or explanations of onscreen graphics) may or may not be relayed by the RDS announcers. Interviews aired during the broadcast are undubbed, though announcers will translate what is said after the interview ends. Also, RDS will air Budweiser advertising in English during the Super Bowl before the Super Bowl halftime show

The video is usually delayed by several seconds from the originating feed, in order to ensure that irrelevant information (e.g. U.S. network promos) are deleted from the RDS broadcast.

Other affiliations

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. Please note that they still broadcast in 2.0 sound even their 3rd year in HD. Furthermore, all their news broadcast are still not in HD.


Michel Bergeron - Montreal Canadiens analyst

Joel Bouchard - Montreal Canadiens analyst

Rodger Brulotte - Baseball analyst

Benoît Brunet - Montreal Canadiens Colour Commentator

Denis Casavant - CFL/NFL play-by-play

Jean-Paul Chartrand - Boxing

Alain Crête - Montreal Canadiens host / NHL play-by-play

Jacques Demers - Montreal Canadiens analyst

Martin Dion - Boxing / contributor

Claudine Douville - Soccer play-by-play

Norman Flynn - Hockey analyst

François Gagnon - Hockey analyst

Luc Gélinas - Sports 30 reporter / NHL beat

Pierre Houde - Montreal Canadiens play-by-play / Formula 1 lap-by-lap

Bertrand Houle - Auto racing analyst

Marc Labrecque - Sports 30 host

Michel Lacroix - Golf analyst

Michel Y. Lacroix - Soccer / NHL host

Renaud Lavoie - Sports 30 reporter / NHL beat

Stéphane Leroux - Junior Hockey analyst

Chantal Machabée - Montreal Canadiens ice level reporter, Sports 30 host

Yvon Michel - Boxing analyst

Jean Pagé - Hunting and Fishing analyst

Frédéric Plante - Sports 30 host

Yvan Ponton - Tennis analyst and 30 Images / Seconde Host

Hélène Pelletier - Tennis analyst

Christian Tortora - F1 on circuit analyst

Pierre Vercheval - CFL/NFL analyst

Broadcasting contracts

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.

International distribution

See also

  • RDS Cup - Quebec Major Junior Hockey League "Rookie of the Year" award

Notes and references

  1. "CTV acquires rights to hockey theme song", CTV News, June 9, 2008
  2. RDS - Tous les matchs du CH en HD
  3. RDS - À RDS jusqu'en 2013

External links

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