An End of an Era: TLN Dumps Serie A

Many Canadians, myself included, have watched Serie A on TLN for years. Aside from Premiership games on Sportsnet and some Champions League on TSN, it was the only league available to Canadians for many years. It seems the tradition of calcio on TLN has come to an end as Sunday afternoon Serie A matches will move exclusive to TLN’s sister channel Euroworld Sports beginning next week.

TLN came on the air in 1984 (which is before my time) and with it came flagship programming in Serie A. TLN continued as the exclusive broadcaster of Serie A in Canada up until 2010, when theScore took over rights. However, theScore sold TLN one game per week as part of the new deal. For most of the past two seasons this game, Sunday at 2:45pm ET, has aired on both TLN and Euroworld Sports. For some reason, this practice will stop midseason next week as TLN will air movies on Sunday afternoon instead.

The network that helped bring the world’s game to Canada is now abandoning it in an attempt to force cable and satellite providers to pick up their digital all-sports channel. Currently only Rogers in Ontario carried Euroworld Sport, and chances are nobody else is adding it before the end of the season.

This is just the latest move of this sort by TLN. They also removed most Europa League games from the network this season, airing no group stage matches and only a couple Manchester United and Manchester City knockout stage games. After both were knocked out, coverage returned to Euroworld Sport, leaving many Canadians in the dark for the quarterfinals.

I guess that is my problem with this move. It comes with only a month remaining in the Serie A season. Canadians have counted on TLN showing the Sunday evening Serie A match for years, dating back to when they were the exclusive broadcaster. Now, with the season at its critical point, most Canadians will have no access with little chance any service provider will add Euroworld Sports this quickly.

Euroworld Sports’ exclusive coverage includes Juventus vs. Roma (two of the most popular Italian teams in Canada) on April 22, a key Champions League position battle between Udinese and Lazio on April 29. More importantly than either of those is the Milan Derby on May 6. This is the type of game that attracts soccer fans who don’t normally follow Serie A. It is a way for the league to gain attention. Yet in Canada, even most diehards won’t have the chance to see it.

In the past I always cheered for TLN to pick up soccer rights. They were the little guy who really cared about the game. Not so anymore. They have made it hard-to-impossible to watch the Europa League, and now Sunday Serie A games, outside of Ontario. I get the need to promote the new channel, but based on the fact no other providers offer it, the profitability just isn’t there.

El Classico or TFC… GolTV has a tough decision to make. On April 21 El Classico, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, conflicts with a Toronto FC game. El Classico begins at 2pm ET, while Toronto’s game at home to Chicago begins at 3:30pm ET. GolTV has a few options. One would be to get TFC to move their game 30 minutes later. Another would be to join it in progress or try to sub-lease it to Sportsnet.

Hockey Night commentators… Canucks fans will get their wish as Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Scott Oake will cover their series against the Kings in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Bob Cole, Garry Galley and Glenn Healy will cover the Senators vs. Rangers series, with Cassie Campbell reporting. I’m sure Red Wings fans are thrilled to hear Mark Lee for a second straight playoffs, as he works with Kevin Weekes on their series against the Predators. Rounding out CBC’s team are Dean Brown, Greg Millen and Andi Petrillo working the Bruins vs. Capitals series (more on that later).

Friedman in studio… I think this is where CBC has messed with a good thing. Elliotte Friedman is the best rinkside reporter in hockey. I understand using him in studio during the regular season, especially because of The Hotstove. However during the playoffs, Friedman is best reporting on a series. I would have moved Andi Petrillo to the iDesk, Cassie Campbell to the Bruins series and Elliotte to the Senators series.

Bruins vs. Caps on CBC… Two games from this series will get relegated to CHEX and CBCSports.ca because they conflict with the Senators series. This will obviously anger the many Bruins fans here in Atlantic Canada, but it’s not like CBC could just decide to not show the Sens here. Those with satellite will get to watch the games on CHEX, while others will have to resort to the choppy streaming of CBCSports.ca. Not ideal to say the least.

TSN playoff commentators… Gord Miller has confirmed on Twitter that he and Ray Ferraro will work all of Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia (it’s not clear whether this includes the games on NBC in the US), some of Florida vs. New Jersey, Phoenix vs. Chicago (games in Chicago) and St. Louis vs. San Jose (games in St. Louis). Chris Cuthbert and Mike Johnson will be based on the west coast, moving Phoenix vs. Chicago and St. Louis vs. San Jose. I will post a daily NHL playoff schedule that will include TSN’s game-by-game commentators.

23 thoughts on “An End of an Era: TLN Dumps Serie A

  1. “Two games from [Bruins-Caps] will get relegated to CHEX and CBCSports.ca because they conflict with the Senators series. This will obviously anger the many Bruins fans here in Atlantic Canada, but it’s not like CBC could just decide to not show the Sens here.”

    Actually, CBC could just decide to show the Bruins in Atlantic Canada, or at least on CBC Nova Scotia. I don’t think their mandate forces them to always show a series involving a Canadian team over a series with two American teams (and besides, they’ve accomodated viewers in Southwestern Ontario who prefer the Red Wings…) I am certain there will be more interest in the Bruins series vs the Senators series in Nova Scotia.

    • If it isn’t part of their mandate, it should be. Showing the Bruins in NS isn’t exactly like the Wings in Windsor. Windsor is basically part of the Detroit DMA. Plus the Sens have the claim that all of their regular season games are shown in Nova Scotia.

      • But then that brings up the question – is it more important for CBC to get the ratings or to champion the Canadian teams at playoff time? Let’s face it, a big reason for showing the Maple Leafs every Saturday night is to maximize the ratings, and I accept that as a reality in Canada. If it was a Leafs or even a Habs series conflicting with Bruins-Caps, I think they’re be no question which series gets priority across Canada. But in this dilemma – do you show the Canadian team with probably the smallest following in Canada (until the Jets are no longer the cute youngster in the room), or the American team with a very strong following – shouldn’t CBC, who can program by province, go for eyeballs over the flag?

        Or here’s an out-of-the-box solution in Nova Scotia: let Eastlink show the conflicting Bruins-Caps games, with CBC commercials, on their community channel…

        • Its one thing to go for ratings when its the Leafs or the Senators. There’s no way they should choose an American team or a Canadian team though. The Halifax ratings probably aren’t enough to make a major dent nationally anyway.

  2. I understand why CHEX has to show some games. I wish that other private CBC affiliates would do the same thing because CHEX isn’t on all cable systems.

    TSN’s doing a balancing act with Cuthbert and Johnson staying in Arizona and California. That is good so they don’t travel as much buth they could do the entire Sharks vs Blues series. TSN could then do simulcasts of the Blackhawks vs Coyotes series.

    • Cuthbert/Johnson may do some of the games in Chicago and St. Louis. There’s no real reason to have them do one entire series. The games in Phoenix and San Jose are the only ones on at those times. They will probably be much higher rated than those in Chicago and St. Louis where they go head-to-head with the Senators and Bruins-Caps.

    • Yes, CHEK Victoria has simulcasted Canucks playoff games in the recent past. Other private stations that carry CBC programming could help out here. Thunder Bay, Lloydminster, Prince Rupert, and Dawson Creek have stations that do show HNIC. It should not be only CHEX showing the Capitals-Bruins games.

  3. Marc
    The issue is cbc is a public funded channel if they were to take a american series over a canadian one yes even if that american series had big ratings there would be many people up set even non sens fans also cbc has to walk a very fine line they have 10% of there budget cut now if they are to act more like a private network and go for ratings over the flag people would start asking maybe we should cut funding more or even sell the cbc.

  4. TLN: I completely agree with you that TLN should not have done this with a month left before the Serie A season ends because it screws the Canadian viewers, but I will say that since Fox Sportsworld Canada is going off the air, I and many others would like Euroworld Sport to be picked up by Cogeco, Bell, etc asap because of Fox Soccer Report and other programming that we are going to lose when FSWC goes off the air. Hopefully this decision speeds up the process and gets Euroworld picked up by all the major cable and satellite providers around the country.

    El Classico vs TFC: Of course luck would it have that the game vs Chicago is being televised by NBC Sports Network in the United States. This will undoubtedly make it tough for GolTV to move the game back a half hour because NBCSN will probably not want it to interfere with their programming as well. In my opinion, GolTV should either show the TFC game on a half hour delay or wait a few hours and show it on prime time at 8PM.

    • There’s not even really a guarantee that Fox Soccer Report will continue after this June. It depends on whether Fox Soccer in the US still wants to buy it (and even after that if Shaw still wants to produce it). Euroworld would need to come up with some other sort of Canadian content if Fox Soccer Report is cancelled.

      I’d like to see what Euroworld comes up with for programming for the next few years before any cable/satellite provider adds it. We still don’t know where La Liga, Serie A, Europa League or Ligue 1 will air in Canada next year. If Euroworld has none of those, its a worthless channel.

  5. I’ve read some discussions about the issue all over the internet and people are suggesting that TeleLatino will take over producing Fox Soccer Report and move the show presumably to Toronto to be produced out of their studios. The only thing we know for sure is that the show will keep being produced from Winnipeg even after FSWC goes off the air; Michelle Lissel tweeted a few days ago that the show will be on air in the United States after April. I think it’s basically going to come down to an agreement between FOX (NewsCorp) and TeleLatino over the summer. They are probably going to ask for TLN to raise the production level to meet FOX Soccer’s current production standards.

    In terms of the league contracts in Canada, I don’t see how GolTV can afford to lose La Liga, they will fight hard to retain that league. Serie A is a tough one but as you mentioned, EuroWorld Sport needs a strong league and they will probably go all in for it.

    • If you are referring to the guy on Big Soccer (he comments on EPL Talk too) who claims to be an insider, I think he makes half of it up. There are many times he’s been wrong, especially when talking about Canada.

      Fox could choose to continue to buy FSR from Shaw (as could Telelatino). Or Fox could start producing their own show. Or they could partner with TLN. I don’t think anybody really knows which one will happen.

      It is possible (I haven’t heard for sure) that Al Jazeera has Canadian rights to La Liga and Serie A as well as Ligue 1. If that’s the case, they could partner with Euroworld Sport (or even GolTV, I suppose) to bring those leagues to Canadians. If Serie A and La Liga rights are still available, I suspect theScore might get La Liga and Euroworld might get Serie A. But who knows.

      • Yes that’s the same guy I was referring too. He seems to know what he’s talking about so must have a lot of time on his hands if he’s making it all up lol

        Anyways, as far as I can tell Al Jazeera only has the US rights to La Liga and Serie A. Aren’t U.S. and Canadian rights sold separately? .. I’m sure you know this but the EPL rights in the United States are up for sale this summer as well, and Al-Jazeera could very well end up with all 3 major soccer leagues. What do you think they will do in the states? Do they even have a sports-only channel in English in the U.S. at the moment?

        • From what I know about him, he worked in sales (or something) and was a poker agent. He pissed everyone in both businesses off, and isn’t employed in either anymore. He has a basis for everything, but I think he lets on that he know more than he does. He just predicts everything and usually one of his predictions ends up being right.

          I’m not sure how rights are sold for La Liga. Last time I think GolTV bought North American rights and sold the Canadian rights to GolTV Canada. Serie A has always been sold seperately, but it doesn’t mean it is this time.

          I think Al Jazeera will launch two or three channels in the States. At the least there should be a Spanish and an English channel. They may launch a second English channel if they get EPL (or buy FS Plus). A French channel is also possible (although I don’t see the point, just show Ligue 1 in English). They have nothing right now, but they didn’t have anything in France just a month ago. Now they have a multi-channel package (similar to Sky in the UK) and have rights to just about every major soccer league/tournament worldwide over there.

  6. All you serie A fans you see the big games go rai international. bell and rogers have it. Tln what joke, moving all the serie a to eruosport , and can’t get it on bell and others services. I see all the sarie a games on rai they do better job . TLN WHAT JOKE

    • From a fans side i don’t like this move but from a business side its a smart move they put the leagues on there premium channel it will force Bell etc to pick the channel up as right now there is no need to.

      • My problem isn’t so much that they’re doing it, but its with the timing. Its not reasonable to expect providers to add it before the season is done in a month. By the time any providers do add it, Euroworld could lose Serie A rights.

  7. The Score has rights to Serie A here in Canada, and it presents the games in HD… Bell offers The Score. The hell with TLN, that channel is terrible and the way they treated their subscribers by ditching Serie A games 1 month before the end is a disgrace.

    • Still frustrating we don’t get to see the Sunday evening matches. Those are usually the best of the weekend. There is the Milan Derby in 2 weeeks.

      The problem is theScore might not have Serie A next season. Their contract runs out at the end of this year.

      • do they have intentions of picking up the rights again? As a backup there’s always RAI International, if you don’t mind Italian commentary.. sucks that it’s not in HD though.

        • I don’t know, to be honest. La Liga rights are also available. Obviously Barcelona and Real Madrid are quite popular, which might make it more desirable for theScore.

          If that happened, Euroworld could be the only English language channel to show Serie A next season.

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