New Premier League TV Contract; Sportsnet 360 Usher in new Era for Canadian Soccer Viewers

This season Canadian soccer fans will see more live Premier League and Champions League matches than ever before. This is due to two different changes from a year ago. The first is a new Premier League contract with TSN and Sportsnet that will see each air 190 of the Premier League’s 380 matches. The other is Rogers’ acquisition of theScore and launch of Sportsnet 360, which will supplement Sportsnet’s Champions League coverage this year.

I’ll start with the Premier League. TSN and TSN2 will combine to show four matches most weekends, with an additional match on TSN.ca. The online streaming is free. Last season TSN only had one or two matches per weekend. TSN’s coverage kicks off Saturday morning at 9:30am Eastern with a preview show featuring Luke Wileman, Jason de Vos and Kristian Jack. Following it at 10am ET is Norwich City v. Everton. This weekend TSN also has a doubleheader Saturday morning and a match Monday afternoon. For these matches TSN will simulcast NBC’s broadcast. It features host Rebecca Lowe alongside analysts Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe. Until this season Lowe was a presenter for ESPN in Britain. Earle previously worked for ITV, while Mustoe worked at ESPN. Coverage kicks off at 8am ET on Sunday with Premier League Live, followed by Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham. Then at 11am it’s Chelsea vs. Hull City; NBC’s Arlo White and Lee Dixon will provide commentary for this match. On Monday TSN has Manchester City vs. Newcastle, beginning at 2:30pm ET with Premier League Live.

Sportsnet’s coverage begins with the first match of the season, Liverpool v. Stoke City at 7:30am ET. Sportsnet has a tripleheader on Saturday, also featuring Arsenal v. Aston Villa at 10am ET and Swansea City v. Manchester United at 12:30pm ET. Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest return to Sportsnet’s studio show, along with newcomer Danny Dichio. Sportsnet will mostly show Saturday matches during the first six weeks of the seasons, with the exception of the Manchester Derby on September 22. Following Saturday coverage (at either noon or 2:30pm ET) Sportsnet will show Premier League Matchday, recapping the day’s matches and news.

Sportsnet World’s coverage of the Premier League is severely cut compared to last year. Only four Sunday matches in the first six weeks are exclusive to Sportsnet World this season. That compares to all 11 under the old contract. Sportsnet World will also show a Saturday 10am ET match every week, along with some Monday and midweek matches.

The Champions League playoff round starts on Tuesday with 20 teams fighting for the final 10 spots in the group stage. Sportsnet 360 will also Sportsnet to show up to four matches every Champions League matchday this season.  This won’t happen this week because the regional channels have a Jays game on Tuesday and World has a Premier League game on Wednesday, but it is an exciting possibility for the future.

As for daily studio programs. TSN2 will carry the new ESPN show ESPN FC, weekdays at 5:30pm ET. Sportsnet’s Soccer Central (no longer Fox Soccer News) will continue despite Fox cutting its ties. However the show is no 30 minutes long, instead of 60.

However, for those who want to see La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Championship coverage on beIN Sports, not such great news for you. Writer John Molinaro reports that beIN is no closer to launching in Canada and they don’t plan to sub-license games until the channel does get approved and launch. So basically the same thing we’ve heard for the past year.

Enjoy the soccer everyone!

41 thoughts on “New Premier League TV Contract; Sportsnet 360 Usher in new Era for Canadian Soccer Viewers

  1. From my limited understanding, the only two possibilities would require at least some kind of deal with Canadian companies. Being allowed onto the CRTC list of approved non-Canadian channels requires that they demonstrate with a list of their programming that they are not direct competition for a Canadian channel, and that may be difficult if it BeIN is a general sports channel like TSN and Sportsnet are in Canada, or ESPN and NBC Sports Network are in the US but not allowed to be directly available in Canada. I think the process of applying to get on the list of allowed non-Canadian channels may also require a Canadian carrier who has already agreed to carry the channel when it gets approved, so even if BeIN could be categorized as a niche channel of foreign sports they may be having trouble convincing a Canadian company to pay what they want, or be trying to work out a programming schedule that would satisfy requirements.

    The other option is to apply for a licence for a new channel in Canada or buy an existing one, but that limits foreign ownership to a minority percentage, similar to ESPN’s minority ownership of TSN. They may not want that, or may not be able to get a Canadian company to be majority owner of a proposed new channel or sell part of an existing channel. And any completely new channel could also have trouble arranging deals with Canadian carriers.

    In any case, it was a dumb move to sell Canadian TV rights to someone who wasn’t going to show the games to Canadians.

    • I think beIN’s bigger problem is that it competes with GolTV and SN World, showing mostly soccer. Arguably even Euroworld Sports could file a claim since its license calls for European sports, which it could fulfill if beIN were to cut a deal with TLN.

      Problem with rights is Serie A and Liga don’t sell them directly. They sell them to a media company, which simply sells them to the highest bidder. For Ligue 1 beIN has worldwide rights. They have re-sold them in some markets where they don’t broadcast (like the UK).

  2. It’s so awesome what tsn and sportsnet are doing with showing tons of Epl games. Love it! Was about to buy sportsnet world but won’t quite yet with tsn and tsn2 adding bunch of games. I love it.

  3. Will TSN be the only network to simulcast NBC’s broadcast?

    It will be interesting to see if people will enjoy NBC’s broadcast of the game.

    Did anyone have a chance to watch their inaugural week?

    • Yes TSN will simulcast NBC (when possible), while SN will continue to use their own studio crew.

      I watched most of Swansea-Man United and Chelsea-Hull on NBC. I thought it was pretty good. Lowe and Earle were both highly-praised in the UK, so they are great additions for NBC. I’ve always liked Mustoe too. I was surprised how good Arlo White was, just as good as most of the world feed commentators. Lee Dixon is probably better than most of the analysts.

  4. Just finished watching soccer central and I can defiantly say it has been downgraded from last season. It’s one man show with no chair or table so it doesn’t feel like a news and only airing from Monday-Thursday plus one hour on Sundays, so I don’t know if we get any big previews before the weekend.

    Well, it is better than nothing plus to be fair, regular daily sports news on TSN and Sportsnet show some highlights from EPL and MLS (very quickly).

    I personally just rather to watch only soccer news.

    • A shame they have stop using the Fox Sports graphics package and go back to the shitty Sportsnet one.

      • It is no longer a Sportsnet/Fox production anymore.

        It is purely Sportsnet now and Sportsnet hasn’t done their own daily soccer show before. They use to have Sportsnet World Connected but nothing just with soccer.

    • Yeah it was mostly Fox-funded before. Now they have their own show from LA, so the amount of $ available to Soccer Central is really scaled back. I prefer ESPN FC personally. Its on TSN2.

  5. After watching the first weekend, I am quite happy.

    Sportsnet was doing it right in the years before and continue to do so. They kicked it up a notch with Dichio adding some laughs to complement the more earnest Forrest for the studio portions. Graphics were also refreshed.

    NBC was better than I thought they would be. Part of it was that they used the world feed announcers for 4 of the 6 matches I saw. Studio show also doesn’t reek of the boorish American style that is so out of place in the football world. Only time I cringed is when they had an American on the panel but Martino is more tolerable than the others seen on Fox. Host Lowe is quite good. Arlo White was also better than he was doing MLS broadcasts.

    Pet peeves are NBC bug is too big. They also cut away for commercials just after players enter the pitch which is tolerable but they missed showing the Special One entering the field after hyping it and had to sheepishly show it on replay.

    TSN has their own studio show on Saturday but didn’t bother with it on Sunday or Monday. Instead, they picked up the NBC feed. A bit strange to be watching TSN picking up an American feed who were picking up the world feed for 2 of 3 matches. It appears TSN is much less committed than Sportsnet. Not sure why they’re okay with NBC putting their brand on it at the expense of their own especially when NBC was using the world feed announcers. Plus, NBC halftime has way too many commercials and Mr. Formation Geek himself, Tristan Jack is better than any of the analysts so far used by NBC.

    • I actually preferred when NBC used their own commentators. Arlo White wasn’t as good as, say, Martin Tyler or Ian Darke, but he was as good as anyone else. Martino wasn’t bad, while the other 3 in studio were excellent. Just as good as Sky or BBC IMO, better than ITV. ITV have also cut away during Champions League matches, so it isn’t exactly unheard of.

      From what I understand, TSN is using the NBC studio mostly all of the time. KJ isn’t on full-time at TSN either. I doubt they really lose anything from viewers seeing the NBC brand. They used ESPN last year. And show NBC hockey and football broadcasts all of the time. TSN has always tended to simulcast US broadcasts, while Sportsnet tends to use the international feed.

      • But the difference is that for a bunch of matches, it wasn’t a NBC production as they were using the world feed and announcers.

        • I suppose it depends what you call an NBC production. NBC studio + NBC graphics = NBC production to me, even if the announcers are international feed.

        • TSN stepped up to the plate to get 50% of the matches vs last yr’s small piece. Plus, NBC isn’t noted for their soccer coverage.

          But they’re saving paying part-time wages for Jack & I assume DeVos? While they fritter away chance to become known for their soccer coverage like Sportsnet? It’s one of the few areas where I seen TSN taking a cheaper route while Sportsnet has started to spend money for Jays, junior hockey, Indy & soccer..

  6. Sharms v KJ an interesting battle. I wonder why Sportsnet didn’t take KJ, they took at least a couple from theScore. Why not KJ? Any ideas?

    • Possibly they felt they already had too many analysts, although I think KJ is better than all of them. Maybe they didn’t want him because he isn’t an ex-player like Forrest and Dichio. I thought they should have taken him to do the nightly Soccer Central with Sharman.

  7. What has happened to the Sportsnet World Plus channels on Rogers? It wasn’t used Saturday for the other Premier League game Sportsnet had (West Ham v Cardiff) and it is not being utilized again today for the Champions League.

    • All those games that aren’t shown on TV are available online, I saw West Ham vs Cardiff. Today there were two extra UEFA Champions games online as well.

      Plus the good thing is that all those games are available on demand.

    • I had heard Rogers was still going to show them. No idea why they didn’t.

      • Thanks Josh, Perhaps next week they will use them. My on screen guide doesn’t have anything showing for tomorrow’s CL matches either.

  8. I know they are available online but my preference is to watch them on tv. Maybe not today’s matches in particular but for Premier League & CL group stage I would rather record them and watch on tv. The frustrating part is the lack of communication from Rogers and the website indicates they still have these channels active.

    • Does anyone know what this means in regards of sportsnet channels? Are they going to share games or TLN will be the italian/spanish channel for UEFA?

      Sportsnet channels as mentioned in this article are doing an amazing job in regards of UEFA and Europa league, we never had play off round and so many games when TSN hold the rights.

  9. More matches: great. But I absolutely hate what TSN is doing with the simulcast of the NBC broadcast. I guess I’ve been spoiled by having the SportsNet World seamless broadcast of seeing the players in the tunnel until they’ve left the pitch at half-time. No jumping to adverts, no silly countdown clock to kick-off, no on-screen sponsors next to the score bar. No scrolling baseball scores and a British woman telling me the 49ers are playing the Saints on NBC, while this guy Marino goes on about “saw-kerrr”. But should I be surprised? Nope – TSN always picked up ESPN’s car-wreck of a broadcast for years. I think they’re just lazy. And two weekends in, they still can’t get their TSN.ca matches right not having the correct links available until AFTER kick-off. And as a satisfied Bell subscriber, I’m putting money in their pockets!

    • I actually like NBC’s coverage. It’s normal for networks to promote other sports during a broadcast, Sky does the same in the UK. Same with adverts. To each his own I guess.

      ESPN’s broadcasts the past few years were hardly a trainwreck. Ian Darke is one of the best football commentators in the world.

      • I’m speaking from a pure cleanliness standpoint that we’ve become accustomed to the last three seasons: the players waiting in the tunnel, you could actually hear their banter, the entrance onto the pitch, then the line-ups on screen (which has been the case going back to my childhood in England 40 years ago, not a quick scroll of players like NBC does). Ian Darke and Steve McManaman were fantastic on ESPN. I’m referring to broadcast quality again. I love baseball but I don’t need to see LAST NIGHT’S baseball scores scrolling along the bottom during the first half of a Monday afternoon footy broadcast. And comparing to ITV’s highly discredited broadcasting skills is hardly a positive.

        Like I said, we’ve been spoiled the last few seasons but it’s pretty sad when we can still get that quality on Sportsnet but TSN just doesn’t get it. You can have NBC’s broadcast: “Let’s talk about every potential Yank in this match, and any American that lives within 20 miles of the stadium.” Sorry, I’d rather see our own studio show with Kristian Jack than the dour looking English woman and the Yank talking about saw-kerrr. And then the same commentators but the international feed. But that’s asking too much of the lazy folks down at TSN, even though there’s generally no simulcast benefit to leech off of for these broadcasts.

  10. I was on vacation for the last week or so and the first EPL game I was able to sit down and watch was yesterday’s United-Chelsea stinker. I was not impressed by NBC’s coverage. I feel too much focus was put on the context of the game rather than the game itself. I guess this is what American viewers want and what works to help grow the product but I prefer the world feed where the focus is on the game itself, the tactics and critical analysis of the players, managerial and refereeing decisions are provided.

    Arlo White and his partner failed to provide any critical analysis in an unbelievably boring game beyond saying “Mourinho has employed defensive tactics”. This is atypical of an NFL broadcast and I guess it’s what NBC wants but I was not impressed and hope we’re not stuck with this all season when the EPL main feed is available and fantastic. If the game is bad, admit its bad and provide some critical analysis as to why its such a poor game. They’re afraid to “hurt” the product so they shy away from such rhetoric (an NFL tactic) and a fair analysis of the game is not shared. Honesty has become a convention in a soccer broadcast and shying away from it makes for a poor product. Hopefully this changes.

    Arlo White makes a great MLS commentator but for EPL, please NBC, don’t mess with what works. Give me Jon Champion, Martin Tyler, Peter Drury, Tony Jones, etc.

    • Excellent comments but we’re stuck because TSN doesn’t care what fans think. They’ve likely noticed that NBC adds lots of commercial opportunities and it’s a simulcast (so ZERO total effort for TSN). Did I mention that I hate TSN for being involved in broadcasting the BPL?!? The real sore point for me is that I pay for SportsNet World (which frankly Rogers has ruined too since buying from Setanta with their endless promo’s for the other Sportsworld channels), and I used to get the professionally broadcast world feed for all the Sunday matches. Now it’s often TSN, though it was fantastic that SNWO had the Cardiff-Man City match.

  11. I’m glad that TSN has picked up games because that just means less content for Rogers bullshit Sportsnet World channel. I’ll take TSN using NBC’s sub-par production over nothing.

    I’m holding out as long as I can from ordering SNW. Nothing irks me more than knowing that on Sunday games are being shown on SN World while on SN other 10 channels is a combination of Connected and Blue Jays in 30. That’s an absolute sham that they shouldn’t be able to get away with. The only reason I might order is to watch Champions League, specifically AC Milan. But that would be a pretty desperate move considering the free stream option.

    I’m going to give NBC some slack, its only the second week. Hopefully things change and TSN maybe begins showing the World Feed. I can’t comment on NBC’s studio show because I didn’t see it and frankly, I don’t watch half-time shows either way.

    • Point taken, but I don’t have an issue paying extra for quality. I’d be seriously pissed if I was paying for a specialty channel like SportsNet World and they showed the NBC feed (they would just fill the numerous ad breaks with SportsNet promos). To TSN’s credit, their online matches use the word feed. Of course, they still mess that up by having incorrect links and therefore never showing the match from the beginning. Maybe Verizon can come in and set up a decent footy channel to take business away from the clowns at Bell (TSN) and Rogers (SportsNet).

      • I wouldn’t pay $15-20 a month for a few Premier League matches a month, regardless of how good the broadcast is. I don’t really care about halftime shows either, but I think Rebecca Lowe and Robbie Mustoe are fine. Martino is a bit out of place considering he’s never played in England. But then again Kristian Jack has never played professionally at all, so I really don’t think that’s the way to judge an analyst.

        NBC’s coverage has got good reviews in the US, where Fox had sub-par coverage for years. I don’t mind Arlo White, but he’s not that bad. Not Champion, Darke, Tyler or Mowbray, but just as good as most others IMO. I also like that NBC has their commentators on-site, which the world feed often doesn’t. Guys like Drury, Ekoku and Robson often do a PL game in the morning for the world feed, then a Bundesliga or Serie A game in the afternoon for BT or ESPN.

        Verizon (or any other US company) couldn’t launch a TV channel in Canada without backing of Bell, Rogers, Shaw or TLN. Hence why beIN Sport isn’t here yet.

        • Wrong. The last few seasons, all commentators for the BPL games have been on site. The feed is actually the same, the -broadcast- is different. The Man City-Newcastle match last week had Martin Tyler commentating on BOTH the world feed and the NBC feed. The guys you cited are UK-based, so obviously they’re calling the German and Italian matches from a studio.

          We can agree to disagree. Call me a purist – I wouldn’t want anyone butchering my NHL or NFL broadcasts with inopportune commercial breaks or British accents talking about the power play (which is why Martino’s very American accent and lingo are nails on a blackboard to me; at least Jason de Vos and Craig Forrest speak with a more subtle accent and actually use footballing terms).

          I grew up in England; the game runs through my veins. You might be OK with butchered broadcasts, and scrolling baseball scores. I’m not. I’m glad you enjoy the NBC broadcasts because that’s all we’ll get from the lazy simulcasting bastards at TSN. Of course Verizon won’t and can’t come into Canada for TV purposes – it was just my jab at the monopoly of our broadcaster, team owner, rights holder telecom companies who only know how to broadcast hockey and curling.

          • Yeah I know Tyler is doing the worldfeed and NBC is using it. But I can guarantee you he (almost) always does the Monday games from a studio. Those who live in the UK and know these things have told me this. I’ve also seen the likes of Robson and Burley (when he was living in the UK) do a 12:45 GMT PL game for the world feed from somewhere like Newcastle, then do a Bundesliga game at 5:30 GMT for ESPN. There’s no way he’s actually making the trip from Newcastle to London to do that.

            I suppose if Brits actually played in the NHL (or any major hockey league) you’re next argument would be more valid to me. And I’m fairly certain that BBC and Sky to throw Brits on their NFL broadcasts, so the same is true of them as is of NBC in reverse. I don’t really like Martino either, but I can see why an American network would want at least one American (out of what, 6 on-air personalities?).

    • Milan probably won’t have many live games on SN World anyway (well I guess they might online). Usually an English team ends up on World. And Sportsnet seems to put the biggest games on the main channel now, so if Milan gets in a group with an English team it’d probably be on the main channels.

  12. A few months in and the soccer coverage is down in quality from last year. Sportsnet is better able to handle the EPL games. TSN showing some games on TSN.ca is crap. If I wanted to watch soccer online I wouldn’t pay for cable. I do pay for cable and subscribe to Sportsnet World as well. Last year I could get any games not shown on regular TV on Sportsnet World Plus…..similar to NHL Centre Ice or the NFL Sunday Ticket. The quality of HD tv will always be better than streaming anything over the internet.

  13. Nicely put Shawn. Watching the Spurs-Man Utd match on Sunday with the international feed and analysis on Sportsnet World, showed me what I miss about the last few seasons. I absolutely hate what TSN has done but Sportsnet has gone down a bit too.

    • I think Sportsnet’s coverage has improved marginally. They have interviews with an on-site reporter (sometimes even the commentator) pre-match and they are showing more interviews from Sky and BT post-match.

  14. I watch the lead-up to another season of English football, and debate whether it is worth continuing my SportsNet World subscription. This summer, they brought back some “Classic” matches from the past decade, but no analysis of the World Cup nor coverage of player movements – just loaded down with southern hemisphere rugby. FA Cup coverage was pretty sad this last season with not even replays of the semi finals or finals and by no longer having the Football League Championship rights, they didn’t have the promotion playoffs.

    I get that SportsNet overall no longer seems to be able to pick and choose what fixtures they air – it seems that TSN gets the first choice and goes for recognisable names (not necessarily good games as the MUFC selections proved to be) and so SportsNet puts the better of the two Saturday 3 pm (UK time) kick offs on the main regional channels and the best of the “leftover” games on SportsNet World. I remember Saturday being football nearly all day, from an early Scottish match, through the live mid-afternoon match, the replay of a Championship division game, and then after a feature Premiership Rugby Union match, replays of the EPL matches that were on the online feeds as well as those broadcast on the channels. They now have nothing to offer, and it shows. Eight, ten, twelve showings of Soccer Central in a 24 hour period?

    I know that Rogers has a stake in GolTV – I wish that they would use it to sub-license Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A matches for SportsNet World. I never get to see the Bundesliga as GolTV only seems to air them live, when the EPL is on live.

    Either that, or admit that they don’t have the rights to program football sufficiently on that channel and re-purpose it into something commercially viable going forward. Even if it becomes “SportsNet Hockey Supreme”.

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