As I mentioned in my Monday Morning Commentator article yesterday, I found it odd that TSN has no UEFA Champions League or Barclays Premier League matches listed on their upcoming broadcast schedule. Well it turns out that the Premier League was a typo, and TSN is now advertising those. However, TSN will no longer be showing the UEFA Champions League this season. I cannot say for certain whether they chose to drop it, or they were forced out by the primary rightsholders Rogers. RDS has also been cut out, with French-language rights going to TVA Sports. That deal was announced over a month ago.
This means that Champions League coverage will revert to how was was two seasons ago this year. Sportsnet and Setanta will split coverage. Each of Sportsnet, Sportsnet One and Setanta will air a live match each Tuesday and Wednesday of the tournament. Sportsnet will almost certainly continue to show the final. Either Setanta or Sportsnet will get first pick each day, with the other getting second. Sportsnet One will always take third pick. Exact details of this have not been worked out yet.
It is too bad that TSN won’t be back. I thought their coverage improved immensely late last season when Luke Wileman and Jason de Vos were added to the studio presentation. Overall, Sportsnet does a fine job in my opinion though. As long as they continue to use the Sky commentary, I won’t complain.
This is only slightly worrisome to me in the sense that Setanta, which is now wholly owned by Rogers, will have the ability to show all first-choice matches if that is what Rogers chooses to do. It’s not a big deal this month since Setanta is on free-preview, but it could be down the road. Fox, who owns US Champions League rights, is already doing this beginning this year with Fox Soccer getting first pick, while the more widely available Fox Sports Net gets second pick.
I’m sure there may be more to come on this, so stay tuned. For now you can see the likely playoff round UEFA Champions League schedule here. Setanta games are confirmed, Sportsnet games are likely. It will be updated as the season goes on.