Bell Media has acquired rights to FIFA soccer tournaments from 2015 until 2022. The package includes the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as well as the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. This is a huge gain for CTV and TSN, as some games at all three of those events will attract over a million viewers, a rarity in Canada outside of hockey. English-language coverage will air on CTV, TSN and TSN2, while RDS and RDS2 will broadcast French-language coverage. TSN, TSN2, RDS and RDS2 are also the official Canadian broadcasters of UEFA events, including EURO 2012 and EURO 2016. The new FIFA package also includes the Men’s and Women’s U-17 and U-20 World Cups, the FIFA Confederations Cups in 2017 and 2021, the Beach Soccer World Cup and the Futsal World Cup.
Here is a quote from Kevin Crull, President, Bell Media:
The FIFA World Cup is an event that galvanizes the world and has a demonstrated ability to touch all communities and cultures. Bell Media is proud to be Canada’s leader in soccer broadcasting and we know the passion for the sport is sure to grow. We are honoured that FIFA has put their trust in Bell Media to bring these events to all Canadians. Our strategic vision has always been to give Canadians the industry’s best coverage of the biggest events and we are fully committed to delivering the World Cup across multiple platforms like never before. All of us are looking forward to getting it all started on Canadian soil for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
And a quote from Niclas Ericson, Director of FIFA TV Division:
We are particularly pleased with the development of our media rights and the reach of our events. For every cycle we are reaching more fans than ever, and with the channels and media platforms of Bell Media we are in very good hands for the 2015-2022 period.
And, finally, a quote from Phil King, President, CTV Programming and Sports:
This is a historic day for Bell Media and sports broadcasting in Canada. We are thrilled that FIFA has recognized our unmatched ability to produce, promote and market the World Cup to all Canadians. Our production team has a long legacy of delivering outstanding coverage of major international events across multiple platforms. In this partnership, FIFA can expect Bell Media’s coverage to not only serve avid Canadian soccer fans but also showcase their marquee events to non-traditional sports fans. We’ll be working closely with our partners to put a national spotlight on the 2015 Women’s World Cup ensuring the event has a long-term impact on the future of soccer in Canada.
I am not at all surprised by this news. Bell Media has committed to Canadian soccer, with coverage of Major League Soccer, which is taken into consideration when FIFA decides who to sell rights to. Not to mention that CBC has lost the CFL, curling and figure skating to TSN in recent years.
I think it is fantastic news for Canadians that TSN and CTV will show the World Cup. Sure, CBC was able to show almost every game at the 2010 World Cup live, and free, to Canadians, but many of the smaller tournaments were only available on the digital channel Bold. TSN can also provide the same quality broadcast as CBC.
The plus on the CBC side is that CBC will have more money to spend on National Hockey League rights in a couple of seasons. Had CBC outbid TSN on soccer, I think they would have likely lost Hockey Night in Canada. Now, they may have a chance of holding on to it, albeit with a reduced amount of playoff games in my opinion.
I think the CBC’s best course of action, due to the combination of potential budget cuts and higher rights fees for sports events, is to cut as many sports properties as possible, except for hockey and amateur sports (including the 2014/2018 Olympics).
The only unfortunate thing for Canadians is ESPN has lost out on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which means there is no chance TSN can use ESPN’s commentary feed which would have included Ian Darke and Derek Rae.