Edit as of 8/7: It seems the news isn’t so dire for Canadian motorsport fans. The advanced listings that were available at the time of this post are now updated and it seems Speed will continue to broadcast motorsport programming from Fox Sports 1 in Canada. Fox Sports 1 will not be available in Canada. See here for more information.
It’s the news Canadian sports fans have waited for since Fox Sports 1 was officially unveiled in the winter; however, it isn’t the news any were hoping for. Even auto racing fans who held out faint hope for continued coverage of NASCAR practice, Moto GP, V8 Supercars and other forms of auto racing won’t like what will become of Speed in Canada on August 17th, when Fox Sports 1 launches in America. The last program that Speed will show is an encore of NASCAR qualifying from Michigan from 4-6am ET. Then Canadians will get endless repeats of mostly non-racing or automobile shows. All day. Every day. August 17th features Pass Time, Pumped, Wrecked, Hard Parts, Unique Whips and an encore of the Barrett-Jackson Auction from January. Sunday features many of the same shows with RU Faster Than a Redneck, Drag Race High, Pinks and Unique Whips joining the schedule.
The impact of this on Canadian sports broadcasting is actually quite striking and far-reaching. Immediately it means NASCAR fans will not see Sprint Cup Saturday practice or the Truck Series race at Michigan on August 17. Nor will they see signature Speed programs NASCAR Raceday or NASCAR Victory Lane on August 18. Both of those are are moving to Fox Sports 1. The Moto GP race at Indianapolis, another Speed staple, will also not air in Canada.
Something else that is interesting is how Fox Sports 1 is replacing Speed in the United States. Notice I said replacing. This is not a straightforward re-brand. Speed will go off the air, Fox Sports 1 will replace it. Fox is negotiating new contracts with American providers for Fox Sports 1, hoping for higher subscriber fees than they could collect for a niche channel like Speed. So the channel that is approved for Canada is effectively shutting down in the States, while a new channel (which is not approved for Canada) is launching. So, Fox would have to apply to the CRTC for approval of Fox Sports 1, which certainly wouldn’t be granted considering it will compete with the TSN and Sportsnet networks. Remember how confused and mad Canadians were when WTBS became Peachtree TV in October 2007? While this is a different situation it will likely lead to the same result.
It is important to note that the only Canadians losing out are those who want to watch programming which has previously exclusively aired on Speed in Canada, such as the programs previously mentioned; or Fox’s new studio show, such as the new Fox Sports Live featuring former SportsCentre anchors Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. Canadians looking for most of Fox Sport 1’s other programming will find it on Canadian channels Sportsnet and TSN. The first UFC on Fox Sports 1 card on August 17th will air on Sportsnet 360, as will other UFC programming and The Ultimate Fighter. In fact Sportsnet owns rights to most of Fox Sports 1’s programming including UEFA soccer, college football and basketball from the Big 12 and Pac-12. Sportsnet will also have rights to the MLB games that Fox Sports 1 begins showing in 2014. And the 7 Sprint Cup races Fox Sports 1 has from 2015 will surely land on Canadian TV as well, just as every Sprint Cup race does now.
However, it does seem that Speed will (somehow) continue to broadcast new Barrett-Jackson Auctions live in Canada. Here is a quote from the press release announcing the auctions will continue to air on the Fox family of networks after the launch of Fox Sports 1.
For Canadian viewers, the SPEED brand will remain, and the new FOX Sports coverage of Barrett-Jackson will be broadcast on the network as usual. The transition of another FOX network, FUEL TV, to FOX Sports 2 will also happen in August and will play a role in future Barrett-Jackson programs.
ESPN FC... ESPN is launching a new daily soccer show on August 12. It will air weekdays at 5:30pm ET on TSN2 in Canada. Considering ESPN doesn’t air the Premiership or Champions League, and is losing FIFA rights after next year, I give them credit for finally launching a daily soccer show. And in the evening to show fresh Champions League and other weekday highlights. Dan Thomas and Max Bretos will share the hosting duties. The list of analysts (of which there are 23) includes familiar names Craig Burley (who is moving to the US to become the primary analyst for the show), Ian Darke, Steve McManaman, Derek Rae, Stewart Robson, Sid Lowe, Gabriele Marcotti, Raphael Honigstein, and others.