Sportsnet the Home of the Champions League Through 2015

UEFA and Rogers Media have announced that Sportsnet will continue to exclusively broadcast UEFA Champions League matches in Canada through the end of the 2014-15 season. Sportsnet’s properties, including the regional channels, Sportsnet One and Sportsnet World, will broadcast 146 matches per season for the next three years. The new contract also includes online and mobile rights.

In addition to the qualifying round, group stage, knockout stage and final, all of which have aired on Sportsnet for the past three seasons, the new deal includes rights to the qualifying rounds. Popular teams such as Rangers, Benfica and Panathinaikos all had to play in the qualifying rounds this past season. This will give Sportsnet World more summer programming while the European domestic leagues are in their offseason.

The contract also includes the UEFA Cup and French-language rights for TVA Sports. At least 34 games per season will air on TVA Sports.

Here is a quote from avaid Mansuri, Vice-President of Finance & Sports Programming, Rogers Media

UEFA Champions League is one of the world’s most prestigious soccer tournaments with a rich history that resonates with Canadian soccer fans across countless communities and cultures. Sportsnet is Canada’s premiere destination for all things soccer, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership with UEFA. The new agreement bolsters Sportsnet’s already robust portfolio of soccer programming and solidifies our commitment to delivering viewers premium sporting events across multiple platforms.

I think Sportsnet has done a reasonably good job with their Champions League coverage. It is certainly better than the product TSN (through ESPN) had in the past. The big games are available on basic cable, where as TSN had to relegate many games to TSN2 (and before that tape delay) due to conflicts with curling coverage.

Sportsnet uses the Sky Sports commentary, which is a major bonus. The only complaint I have is the studio coverage seems distant at times, but that is hard to avoid when the competition is taking place on the other side of the Atlantic. One thing that could help Sportsnet is the addition of a second studio pundit.

Bundesliga… GolTV has secured North American Bundesliga rights until 2015. The new contract is the same as the current one. GolTV will show 2-3 matches per week, including Bayern Munich every other week. The future of GolTV itself, especially in the United States, is in question though. That is because GolTV has lost out on La Liga rights to Al Jazeera. Without Real Madrid and Barcelona, it is tough to see GolTV surviving south of the border. Some 85% of GolTV’s subscribers in America are of Spanish or Latin American origins.

It is still unclear what these developments mean for La Liga fans in Canada, or GolTV Canada. I still believe that TLN has a strong interest in La Liga. It would provide English language programming for Euroworld Sports and Spanish language programming for TLN en Espanol. Of course GolTV Canada could bid itself, as could Rogers or theScore. GolTV Canada has always relied on its American counterpart for programming though.

The Serie A also begins a new contract cycle next season. Presumably, due to conflicts and money, whoever buys La Liga rights won’t have any interest in Serie A. TLN, theScore and GolTV Canada probably all have varying amounts of interest in this property as well.

Another possibility is Al Jazeera could try to get into the Canadian sports market. It has already launched a sports channel in France to show Ligue 1 and is rumoured to have an interest in buying GolTV in the US. There are also rumours of a launch in Britain and a strong play on domestic Premier League rights in the near future. If Al Jazeera have an interest in the Canadian sport market, they could form a partnership with GolTV or Euroworld Sports, or even buy GolTV outright if the new owners of MLSE want to put all Toronto FC games on Bell and Rogers-owned channels.

Al Jazeera already owns Canadian Ligue 1 rights from next season. It sounds that like after years of covering the league in French, TV5 are out. Al Jazeera could sublicense Canadian Ligue 1 rights, or as I mentioned earlier, they could try to gain access to a Canadian soccer channel to air them on.

There is still a lot to work out behind the scenes, but it is possible the Canadian soccer broadcasting scene will look dramatically different when the 2012-13 season starts in August.

Champions League Round of 16, 2nd leg Schedule

Sportsnet has released their broadcast schedule for the 2nd leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16. As with the first legs, Sportsnet and Sportsnet World will each air four matches live over two weeks. Here is the broadcast schedule. All times are eastern (remember daylight savings time goes into effect in Europe next weekend). I have listed the score after the first leg in brackets.

Tuesday March 6
2:30pm, Benfica vs. Zenit (2-3) – Sportsnet
2:30pm, Arsenal vs. Milan (0-4) – SN World

Wednesday March 7
2:30pm, Barcelona vs. Bayer Leverkusen (3-1) – Sportsnet
2:30pm, APOEL vs. Lyon (0-1) – SN World

Tuesday March 13
3:30pm, Bayern Munich vs. Basel (0-1) – Sportsnet
3:30pm, Internazionale vs. Marseille (0-1) – SN World

Wednesday March 14
3:30pm, Chelsea vs. Napoli (1-3) – Sportsnet
3:30pm, Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow (1-1) – SN World

TLN has also released their schedule for Europa League round of 16, which will take place over the next two Thursdays. Here is that schedule.

Thursday March 8
1:00pm, Sporting Clube vs. Manchester City – TLN
1:00pm, Twente vs. Schalke – Euroworld Sport
3:00pm, Manchester United vs. Athletic Club – Euroworld Sport

Thursday March 15
2:00pm, Athletic Club vs. Manchester United – TLN
2:00pm, PSV Eindhoven vs. Valencia – Euroworld Sport
4:00pm, Manchester City vs. Sporting Clube – Euroworld Sport