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!