It’s a question soccer fans across the county have asked themselves all summer. As I reported in the spring, Canadian television contracts for the Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Europa League would all possibly change hands this summer. Turns out they all did. Sportsnet picked up rights to the Europa League back in the spring. It will air on Sportsnet World and Sportsnet One. The other three domestic leagues are still up in the air. More on that later. But, let’s start with what’s stayed the same. Here is a quick league-by-league rundown.
International Matches – Sportsnet owns rights to the vast majority of international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, including all of Canada’s home qualifying matches. Canada’s away games must be purchased from another company. Sportsnet also owns rights to the home matches of Spain, Germany, Holland, France, Portugal, England, Croatia, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic. GolTV owns rights to some matches marketed by Kentaro. These could possibly include Austria, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Wales, Faroe Islands and Kazahkstan home matches, as well as some friendlies. GolTV Canada also owns rights to Brazil’s neutral site and home matches.
UEFA Champions League – Sportsnet is now in the first year of a new three year contract, but coverage remains largely unchanged. Sportsnet, Sportsnet World and Sportsnet One will continue to air 6 matches live each matchday during the group stage (1 Tuesday and 1 Wednesday on each channel). Other matches will air on tape-delay on Sportsnet World. All knockout stage matches will air live, with the final on Sportsnet (and Fox).
Europa League – Sportsnet is also the new exclusive Canadian broadcaster of the Europa League. Sportsnet One and Sportsnet World will each broadcast two matches each matchday. One will air at 1pm ET, with the other following at 3pm ET. Coverage begins with the group stage. I hope to have more information on Sportsnet’s Europa League coverage later this summer.
Premier League – The Premier League is entering the final year of its current three-year contract with Sportsnet. Coverage remains unchanged from last year. TSN2 will have a Saturday morning game. Sportsnet will have a doubleheader on Saturday morning/afternoon. Sportsnet World will show a 10am ET game on Saturday morning, plus all Sunday games. Weekday games will mostly air on TSN2 or Sportsnet World.
F.A. Cup – Sportsnet is entering a new contract with the Football Association to broadcast the FA Cup. The new deals is for six years. They can show up to 59 matches per year beginning with the 5th round proper. It is not clear is matches will only air on Sportsnet World (as in the past), or on the main Sportsnet channel as well. Again, I hope to have more information later in the summer.
Championship/League Cup –
Contrary to unverified reports, Sportsnet still owns Canadian broadcast rights to the Football League package. This includes Championship, League Cup and Promotion Playoffs matches for Sportsnet World. Coverage will be similar to last season.
It seems that Sportsnet World has in fact lost rights to the Football League. Most likely to Bein Sports.
La Liga – Bein Sports (owned by the same company as Al Jazeera) owns Canadian rights to La Liga beginning this season. They currently have no channel to show them on here; however, VP of Programming Antonio Briceno said in June that they plan to show those matches here. There is a lot of speculation and mis-information about La Liga airing in Canada. Other than Bein Sports owning the rights, nothing has been confirmed a week from the start of the season.
Serie A – As far as I know, Serie A won’t be returning to theScore. It is likely that Bein Sports has picked up the rights to this league as well. Again, they currently have no channel to show matches on in Canada. It has also been reported in Italy that RAI might drop international rights to Serie A in Italian due to cost-cutting measures from the Italian government.
Ligue 1 – Bein Sports owns worldwide rights to Ligue 1. It falls under the same category as La Liga in that they have no channel to show it on in Canada. One match per week will air in French on TV5.
Note: As I said, there is a lot of misinformation, and speculation on where Bein’s matches will air in Canada. They could buy-in to a current channel, simply sub-license rights to the highest bidder, or even not show the matches at all. I do understand that, to some degree at least, the usual suspects for showing these leagues are interested in the rights. Whether a deal will get done before the La Liga and Serie A seasons kick off over the next couple of weeks, I don’t know. Once I know more about the situation, I will update.
Bundesliga – GolTV Canada still owns rights to the top league in Germany. They can air 2-3 matches per week, as with GolTV in America. GolTV is no longer using international feed commentary for these games. It is now their own commentators calling the matches off a monitor in Florida.
There are plenty of changes for soccer news shows as well. Fox Soccer Report is done. Analyst Bobby McMahon says Thursday will be the last show. So, fans of the show who get Euroworld Sport, tune-in while you still can.
On Fox Soccer in America, Fox Soccer Report is being replaced by a new highlights show produced by another Canadian network. Sportsnet is also launching a new soccer highlights show on Friday night. Put 2 and 2 together… The new show will originate from Toronto. Sportsnet is calling it Soccer Central, while Fox is using Fox Soccer News as the name (no idea which will be used on-air, maybe both). It will air at 11:00pm ET every night on Sportsnet World, with encores the next day at 1pm ET/MT/PT on the regional channels. With Thomas Dobby leaving theScore, I think it’s likely he will land here as the producer. I’ve also heard that Brendon Dunlop may leave theScore to join the show. Otherwise, Sportsnet personalities like Gerry Dobson, Craig Forrest and Kara Lang could appear. To be clear, I’m just speculating on this. Expect an official announcement sometime before the show launches Friday.
The Footy Show is back on theScore as well. The vodcast returns this week and will be on YouTube from Monday through Thursday. It will also air on theScore television on Mondays and Thursdays starting in September. James Sharman and Kristian Jack will continue to host.
Sportsnet is also launching a new series of overflow channels on Rogers Cable (channels 370 through 381). These will carry bonus live UEFA Europa League, UEFA Champions League and World Cup Qualifying matches live.