Toronto Blue Jays And MLB Network Spring Training Coverage

Another MLB season is just around the corner and Sportsnet will have the Toronto Blue Jays spring training games covered across multiple platforms – all 30 games on either Sportsnet 590 The Fan or sportsnet.ca and 10 games on television. Coverage will include the last two pre-season games from the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

On the TV side, Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler and Joe Siddall will be in the broadcast booth and Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun hosting two special editions of Jays Central in Montreal. In the radio booth, Jerry Howarth, Joe Siddall and Mike Wilner will call the action. Jeff Blair will broadcast his show from Dunedin the week of March 16.

For the 57 of you who are able to get the MLB Network, you can find a list of the 200-ish games they will be showing during spring training here.

Full Jays spring training schedule is below. All times are ET.

Continue reading

TSN’s Multi-Sheet Coverage of 2015 Tim Hortons Brier

TSN’s multiple feeds will be used for multiple curling draws for the first time with the upcoming Tim Hortons Brier that begins this weekend. TSN will broadcast two different draws during the preliminary round’s afternoon and prime-time coverage which gives viewers over 100 hours of Brier action, double the amount from last year.

Four-time Brier champion and three-time world champion David Nedohin will deliver analysis along with Bryan Mudryk on play-by-play and Cathy Gauthier. Vic Rauter and analyst Russ Howard, a two-time Brier champion and 2006 Olympic gold medallist, call afternoon and evening feature draws alongside guest analyst and Olympic silver medallist Cheryl Bernard.

Broadcast schedule is below. Draws will air live across TSN. Feature draw matches and channel listings will be updated daily, visit tsn.ca/curling for the most up-to-date schedule. Continue reading

NHL Canadian TV Schedule: February 25–March 3

Last week’s early HNIC broadcast was slightly down from the previous two weeks but still the most-watched sporting event in Canada for the week. 2.2 million for Leafs-Jets, Jackets-Habs, Panthers-Sens, and Ducks-Oilers versus 2.6 m and 2.4 m the past two weeks, both record highs for the season. The other games for the week: Sun VAN-NYI City 514k, Sat LA-SJ CBC 505k (outdoor game), Fri TOR-CAR SNO 500k, Sat HNIC pre-game Rogers 498k, Fri VAN-NJD SNP 225k, Sat NYI-WAS SN 192k, Fri ANA-CAL SNW 162k.

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 25

7:30pm, Calgary at New Jersey: SN (Rick Ball, Kelly Hrudey, Elliotte Friedman)
8pm, Pittsburgh at Washington: SN1, TVA Sports (Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire)
10pm, Ottawa at Anaheim: TSN5*, RDS*

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 26

7pm, Vancouver at Buffalo: Sabres TV*, SN Pacific*
7pm, Montreal at Columbus: SN East*, RDS*
7:30pm, Philadelphia at Toronto: TSN4*, TVA Sports
7:30pm, Chicago at Florida: SN Ontario/West
8pm, St. Louis at Winnipeg: TSN3*
10:30pm, Ottawa at Los Angeles: TSN5*, RDS*
10:30pm, Detroit at San Jose: SN360

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 27

7pm, Calgary at NY Islanders: SN West*

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 28

3pm, Buffalo at Florida: Sabres TV*
3pm, Detroit at Nashville: SN
7pm, Toronto at Montreal: CBC, TVA Sports (Jim Hughson, Glenn Healy, Craig Simpson, Scott Oake)
8pm, NY Rangers at Philadelphia: NBC, City (Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire)
10pm, St. Louis at Edmonton: CBC (Paul Romanuk, Mike Johnson, Cassie Campbell-Pascall)
10pm, Ottawa at San Jose: SN, TVA Sports 2 (John Bartlett, Greg Millen, Christine Simpson)

SUNDAY MARCH 1

4pm, Los Angeles at Winnipeg: TSN3*
7pm, Toronto at Washington: City, TVA Sports (Dave Randorf, Garry Galley, David Amber)
9:30pm, St. Louis at Vancouver: 9:30pm SN Pacific*

MONDAY MARCH 2

7pm, Nashville at NY Rangers: SN
10pm, Montreal at San Jose: SN East*, RDS*

TUESDAY MARCH 3

7pm, Calgary at Philadelphia: SN West*, TVA Sports
7pm, Washington at Columbus: SN East/Ontario/Pacific
7:30pm, Toronto at Florida: TSN4*
8pm, Ottawa at Minnesota: TSN5*, RDS*
9:30pm, Los Angeles at Edmonton: SN West*
10pm, San Jose at Vancouver: SN Pacific*

Speed Channel Returns To Canada Re-Branded as Fox Sports Racing

Rogers customers began noticing on Thursday that a new channel had appeared in place of the empty slot that was once filled by Speed, the 24-hour motor sports network that was removed one-by-one by Canadian providers from our systems as the parent version in the U.S. became extinct. In its place was a channel that looked remarkably similar to Speed, but instead was named Fox Sports Racing. Confirmation came later that night from Fox Sports that Fox Sports Racing was indeed as re-brand of Speed International.

Fox Sports on Thursday announced the re-branding of SPEED International, its motor sports and automotive network in Canada and the Caribbean, as FOX Sports Racing. The new network will be on the air Friday and will bolster the high-octane programming lineup to deliver additional motor sports and big-event competition programming for 2015 and beyond.

FOX Sports Racing returns to Rogers in Canada just in time for a live airing of Friday’s season-opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Daytona International Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET. Additionally, FOX Sports Racing continues to be available to pay-TV subscribers in the Caribbean.

With a 2015 schedule that includes 785 events and nearly 900 hours of competition-driven programming, the FOX Sports Racing lineup is highlighted by a full season of live NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing, practice and qualifying sessions from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series events; the MotoGP World Championship and its support series Moto2 and Moto3; Monster Energy Supercross; Tudor United Sportscar Championship; ARCA Racing Series; and the inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship, which makes its North American debut on March 14 in Miami.

At this time, it appears Fox Sports Racing is only available to Rogers customers according to the press release above and online forums. I contacted Bell support and they seemed to know nothing about the channel. Rogers was one of the first providers to drop Speed, allegedly due to Fox Sports increasing the price it wanted for the channel despite the channel being stripped of its programming after the US version was killed.

There is nothing new really here to see other than a different shade of lipstick on a watered-down pig. Fox Sports Racing will carry all the same niche motor sports programming Speed carried and features the same crappy commercials and the same crappy realty programming. Live programming includes:

  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Practice and qualifying)
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series (Practice and qualifying)
  • Monster Energy Supercross
  • ARCA Racing Series
  • ASMOIL A Renacross
  • TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
  • MotoGP
  • FIA Formula E Championship
  • Jockey Club Racing Tour
  • Masters At Westminster
  • Street League Skateboarding
  • Burton Snowboarding Events

The only interesting note is whether Fox Sports Racing will be blacked out when TSN is showing the same programming. For instance, next Friday afternoon TSN will be broadcasting NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying, as is FS Racing. It wouldn’t be the first time the channel would be blacked out, as it regularly occurred during Formula 1 coverage when Speed held the U.S. rights.

NHL Canadian TV Schedule: February 18–24

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 18

7pm, Montreal at Ottawa: SN, RDS*
7:30pm, Detroit at Chicago: TVA Sports
9:30pm, Minnesota at Calgary: SN1
10pm, Boston at Edmonton: SN

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 19

7pm, Vancouver at NY Rangers: SN Pacific*, TVA Sports
7pm, Buffalo at Philadelphia: Sabres TV*
7pm, Columbus at Pittsburgh: SN360/Ontario/West
7pm, Winnipeg at Washington: TSN3*
7:30pm, Florida at Montreal: SN East*, RDS*

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 20

7pm, NY Rangers at Buffalo: Sabres TV*
7pm, Vancouver at New Jersey: SN Pacific*
7pm, Toronto at Carolina: SN Ontario*
9pm, Anaheim at Calgary: SN West*
9pm, Minnesota at Edmonton: SN Oilers*

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 21

12:30pm, NY Islanders at Washington: SN
7pm, Winnipeg at Toronto: CBC (Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, Glenn Healy, Scott Oake)
7pm, Columbus at Montreal: City, TVA Sports (Dave Randorf, Jason York, David Amber)
7pm, Florida at Ottawa: SN, TVA Sports 2 (Bob Cole, Greg Millen, Arash Madani)
7pm, Anaheim at Edmonton: SN1 (Kevin Quinn, Garry Galley, Gene Principe)
10pm, Los Angeles at San Jose: CBC, TVA Sports 2 (Paul Romanuk, Mike Johnson, Kelly Hrudey, Cassie Campbell-Pascall)

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 22

12:30pm, Washington at Philadelphia: NBC, SN
3pm, Boston at Chicago: SN360
6pm, Nashville at Buffalo: Sabres TV*
6pm, Vancouver at NY Islanders: City, TVA Sports (John Shorthouse, John Garrett, Dan Murphy)

MONDAY FEBRUARY 23

7pm, Arizona at New Jersey: TVA Sports
10pm, Detroit at Anaheim: SN

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 24

7pm, Vancouver at Boston: SN360/Ontario/Pacific
7pm, Calgary at NY Rangers: SN West*
7pm, Buffalo at Columbus: Sabres TV*
8pm, Montreal at St. Louis: SN East*, RDS*
8pm, Colorado at Nashville: TVA Sports
8pm, Edmonton at Minnesota: SN Oilers*
8pm, Dallas at Winnipeg: TSN3*
10:30pm, Detroit at Los Angeles: SN

News & Notes: WWE Network Adds Providers; Fan 590 Update; Motors TV in Canada?

— The WWE Network is will soon be available to more viewers in Canada. In addition to Rogers and Eastlink, the following providers will add the WWE Channel and have access to the on-demand feature: Telus Satellite (Feb 25), Videotron (Feb 25), Cogeco (Mar 26), and Telus Optik & Shaw in March sometime. Rogers has a ten-year agreement to broadcast all WWE TV and digital content which is why you can’t sign up for it without a TV provider like you can in the US – unless you have a VPN, create a fake US address, and have a Paypal account.

— In an update to this post about The Fan Toronto changing their lineup, the Globe & Mail reports that the new lineup won’t actually be presented as originally announced. Andrew Walker will join Greg Brady in the afternoon slot and not the horrible Dean Blundell in the morning slot. Ryan Pinder of The Fan Calgary is rumoured to be joining Blundell to provide sports knowledge seeing as Blundell doesn’t actually appear to know anything about local sports.

— The dead corpse that is Speed Channel will be removed from all Shaw cable and satellite systems on April 1, the last major Canadian provider that still carried the channel after the US-based network ceased to exist in its original form in August 2013. While TSN and beIN picked up Speed’s major properties such as Formula 1 qualifying, NASCAR practice/qualifying, and various motorbike championships, there is a passionate motor sports fan base who were upset they couldn’t see the niche European and Australia races (among others) Speed offered – see some of the 126 angry comments on this post about the end of Speed. Allegedly,  Fox Sports, owner of Speed in North America, wanted to increase the fees Rogers, Bell, et al. would have to pay for the channel despite the significant decrease in programming, hence the dropping of the channel at the end of each provider’s contact.

That said, Motors TV, Europe’s only dedicated motorsports channel, is expanding into North America and could fill the niche motor sport void left by Speed. Of course, the CRTC would first have to approve the channel for carriage in Canada, and then each provider would have to add the channel to their lineup – something that could take months or years to happen (see: Big Ten Network, MLB Network). With motor racing not as popular here compared to say Australia or Europe, it may be awhile before Speed fans finally get a worthy replacement.

— Hockey Night In Canada host George Stroumboulopoulos was on ESPN’s Olbermann a couple weeks ago and discusses his role as host on HNIC and the unpopularity of the NHL in America among other things. If you take one thing away from the interview, it’s that Keith Olbermann knows much more about hockey that “Strombo” does. Part 1Part 2.

— If you’re a Rogers or Shaw cable subscriber, have Sportsnet One in your lineup, and enjoy reading sports-related articles on your smartphone or tablet, good news — you get a free digital subscription to Sportsnet Magazine. Get it here.

— For rugby fans, Sportsnet World continues to hold the rights to the southern hemisphere’s two major competitions – rugby union’s Super Rugby which kicked off another season this week, and the NRL, Australia’s rugby league domestic competition. beIN has same-day replay rights to the northern hemisphere Six Nations competition which began last weekend.

— With no NFL games for the first time in months, Rogers suits must be happy to see NHL programming take the top six sports in the ratings for week ending February 9. The Raptors see their ratings increase as they continue their excellent form, though some games were beaten out by curling, EPL, and the PGA final round. Top 20 below courtesy Chris Zelkovich. Continue reading

FIFA Extends Bell Media World Cup TV Rights Through 2026

CBC and Sportsnet will be shut out of broadcasting the World Cup until 2030, at the earliest. In a surprise announcement yesterday that nobody was expecting, FIFA said they were extending their television contracts in Canada with CTV/TSN/RDS and in the US with Fox Sports and Telemundo without a bidding process.

Back in 2011, Bell Media won the World Cup rights from 2015 to 2022 which includes World Cup’s in Russia, Qatar, and the Women’s World Cup later this year in Canada, as well as numerous smaller tournaments. This extension adds the 2026 World Cup to the agreement along with the following tournaments: Women’s World Cup 2023, U20 World Cup 2023 and 2025, U17 World Cup 2023 and 2025, Beach Soccer World Cup 2023 and 2025, Futsal World Cup 2024, U20 Women’s World Cup 2024 and 2026, U17 Women’s World Cup 2024 and 2026, and FIFA Confederations Cup 2025.

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with FIFA and are proud to be the Canadian home of FIFA tournaments for the next 12 years,” said Phil King, President, CTV Programming and Sports. “This is another big win for Bell Media and for soccer fans in Canada. We are ready to welcome the world to this summer’s FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CANADA 2015™ and are looking forward to showcasing the beautiful game for years to come.”

There is literally only one reason I can think of as to why FIFA would extend their agreements with these two North American broadcasters without the usual bidding process — a make-good gesture for when the 2022 Qatar World Cup will be moved from summer to the fall or winter. In the summer, the World Cup would be going against little other sports programming. With a move to the fall or winter, even with the time difference, World Cup games would clash with NFL and college football among other big-time programming.

Even more puzzling is awarding rights to a World Cup that has no location yet. There is a strong possibility that the USA and/or Canada could host the 2026 World Cup, which would’ve sparked a massive bidding war for record ratings, and we all know FIFA loves money. Now, this could be a major steal for Bell and Fox, something that no doubt is pissing off the ESPN suits.

As for CBC or Sportsnet, there is certainly little chance either network could afford FIFA rights anytime soon, but 2030 is a long time away in the sports media world, so maybe they’ll have a shot then.