Ottawa bars grudgingly set to pick up tab of hiked Bell and Rogers TV sports packages

Bar and restaurant owners say cable companies’ decision to hike sports broadcast charges is a loser, but they say they’re pretty much strong-armed into paying.

“I’m reluctant to say it’s a surprise,” said Morgan Bristow, manager at TailGators sports bar.

But he says that his hands are tied because the business probably can’t afford to go without all the cable sports packages to keep his customers happy.

The National Post reported this week that Bell and Rogers, the twin conglomerates of the sports-media landscape in this country, have decided to remove their main sports channels from the bundled packages available to businesses that have a liquor licence. They will then offer TSN and Sportsnet — and their various regional feeds — as standalone packages at significantly increased fees.

In the end, Bristow says Rogers and Bell have the upper hand and while he doesn’t like the fact that he’s now being charged more for the same product, he acknowledges that it’s the cost of doing business.

St. Louis Bar and Grill manager Megan Punnett isn’t happy about her higher bills either.

“Our prices might go up but everything else does anyway,” Punnett said.

Now that the business costs are going up, sports bars will either have to pass on the expense to their customers or tighten their belts.

Megan Jodoin, the manager of Liam Macquire’s on St. Laurent says she’s been trying to talk to her provider but it won’t budge on the new bills.

“A lot of people are going online now, so that could be part of the reason,” Jodoin said.

Jodoin says that more people are choosing to go to sports bars because there’s nowhere else to watch the big game.

Many customers don’t want to pay for cable these days, so it looks like sports bars are the ones picking up the tab.

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