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.