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Réseau des sports
Réseau des sports, a Canadian cable television network showing sports and sport-related shows, is the French-language sister station of The Sports Network TSN. It is available in 2.5 million homes. It is owned by Bell Globemedia.
It was founded by John Labatt Ltd., the brewing company. It began broadcasting in September 1989, modeled 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 show's energetic announcer, Serge Vleminckx, was renouned for his enthusastic cries of "Birdie!" when a miniature golfer got a hole in one.
However, by the early 1990s, the network became more established, obtaining the rights to Montreal Expos and some Montreal Canadiens games. Roger Brulotte became the network's second broadcasting star with his enthusiastic colour commentary of Expos games. RDS also covered some of Montreal's struggling 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 CFL 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%".
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. In 2000, the Montreal Expos severed their relationship with the network, complaining that they were not offering enough to broadcast games. The network showed 15 Expos games in 2003.
Also in 2003, the Montreal Canadiens announced a deal to license 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 Soirée de Hockey. Days later, an agreement was reached whereby RDS and Radio-Canada would simultaneously broadcast Canadiens games on Saturday nights, saving the show.
In early 2005, RDS was part of the consortium that won the Canadian broadcast rights to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics. This was considered a serious coup, as the rival CBC had consistently won Olympic broadcast rights from the 1996 Summer Olympics through to the 2008 Summer Olympics. CTV and TQS will be the primary broadcasters; TSN, RDS and Rogers Sportsnet will provide supplementary coverage.
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