FAQ: Fox Sports 1 and Speed in Canada

Fox Sports 1 is launching in the United States today, replacing Speed on the dial on most US cable and satellite providers. This has caused confusion among Canadians wondering if we will receive Fox Sports 1 instead of Speed as well. So, I’ve pulled together a list of questions people have asked me over the past few weeks into this post. I hope it clears everything up a bit. I have received official word from media relations at Fox Sports/Speed on this, so these are not just guesses. If you have any other questions, ask away in the comments and I’ll update this post to include them.

First here is a rundown of the official word I’ve heard from Fox Sports/Speed on the situation.

Canada, among other countries, will continue to get Speed after Fox Sports 1 launches in the United States. It will still be called Speed and carry the same live programming. This live programming will come from Fox Sports 1 in the States.

Oh, and please don’t ask a question without reading this first. Mostly everything should be covered.

Q: Will Fox Sports 1 be available in Canada?

A: No. Fox Sports 1 is not regulated for carriage in Canada, similar to other general interest sports channels such as ESPN and NBC Sports Network.

Q: Will Speed still be available in Canada?

A: Yes. Speed will continue relatively unchanged in Canada. In the US most of Speed’s live NASCAR, Moto GP, Rolex Sports Car Series, Whelen Modified Tour, V8 Supercars and Barrett-Jackson Auctions. This coverage will continue to air in Canada on Speed. NASCAR Race Hub, which continues on Fox Sports 1, will also continue to air on Speed (nightly at 6pm ET). As will NASCAR Raceday and Victory Lane. Some other studio programming including Wind Tunnel and Speed Center are no longer produced, so they won’t air on Speed.

Q: Why isn’t Fox Sports 1 available?

A: There are a few reasons. It isn’t licensed for Canadian carriage. Speed’s license specifically states that it is a motorsports channel. It cannot air other sports because then it would no longer be a niche channel and it would compete with TSN and Sportsnet. This goes against CRTC regulation which prohibit a US-owned specialty channel from directly competing with a Canadian-owned specialty channel.

Q: But when The Nashville Network re-branded as Spike it was still available?

This is a common question, and a good one. TNN completely changed its style of programming when it rebranded as Spike, and almost was removed from the CRTC’s list of approved channels because of this. The difference here is Fox Sports 1 is NOT a rebrand of Speed, but a completely new channel. Speed is shutting down, Fox Sports 1 is replacing it. Any American providers who want to carry Fox Sports 1 have to negotiate a new contract, even if they already have an existing contract for Speed. The same applies for Canada, where in order for Fox Sports 1 to be carried here, a Canadian provider would have to apply to the CRTC asking for it.

Q: I want to see Fox Sports 1 programming, why is the CRTC denying me this right?

Most of FS1’s programming is available in Canada. In fact more of FS1’s programming will be available in Canada than ESPN. All of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches will air on Sportsnet. Every UFC fight, as well as other UFC programs and The Ultimate Fighter will air on Sportsnet 360. As previously mentioned motorsports programming will still air on Speed. Some college football coverage (featuring Pac-12 and Big 12) will air on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet ONE.

Those are the generic commonly asked questions I’ve thrown together. Here are some specific ones from readers.

QSeems Rogers or Bell would be smart enough to include FS1 in some package, given the obvious demand?

No because it is not approved for carriage here. I’m not even sure the demand would be that great if fans realised that FS1 programming would mostly be blacked out due to Canadian broadcasters (usually Sportsnet) owning exclusive rights here (similar to Thursday Night Football on NFL Network or F1 on Speed). Except for Fox Sports Live (Jay & Dan’s new show), which there is demand for in Canada, FS1 isn’t providing a lot of programming that isn’t otherwise available in Canada.

Q: How much college football that would be on FS1 will end up on SN360?

I don’t have an exact answer on this yet, but Sportsnet will probably have a schedule available sometime in the next couple weeks, so check back then.

Q: When can I see Jay and Dan on Canadian TV again?

No Canadian network has released any plans to show Fox Sports Live (Jay and Dan’s new show). However, the pair have released a new (video) podcast that is available in Canada. You can watch it here. In the podcast Dan offered that he heard “it might happen”, referring to the new show airing here. However, a bunch of their clips will get uploaded to YouTube and FoxSportsLive.com.

Q: My cable/satellite on-screen guide says something different than you?

On-screen guides are done by a independent third party (neither Speed nor the cable companies). There are often mistakes, especially in a situation such as this.

What Speed Becomes in Canada on August 17th

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.

Super Bowl XLVII — Full coverage details

Super Bowl XLVIIAnother year, another Super Bowl, another ridiculous amount of television coverage.

The Super Bowl Twister arrow has been spun around once again, and this year it lands on the blue circle of CBS, who today will provide coverage of Super Bowl XLVII (47), and will feature more coverage then ever, on and off the field. CTV and RDS will be provide English and French coverage respectively.

Here is a breakdown and timeline of today’s coverage from the plethora of networks covering the Harbowl™ from New Orleans. All times are Eastern.

  • 7am — NFL Network — First on the Field
  • 9am–5:30pm — NFL Network — NFL Gameday Morning
  • 10am–2pm — TSN — ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown
    • Chris Berman hosts the four-hour Super Bowl edition of Countdown from New Orleans with analysts Tedy Bruschi, Cris Carter, Trent Dilfer, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski, Keyshawn Johnson and Jerry Rice. Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Young will join the show from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will also contribute reports.
  • 11am — CBS / CTV — Road to the Superbowl
    • Road to the Superbowl is NFL Films’ annual look back at the greatest sights and sounds of the 2012-13 NFL season. The one-hour special features the best of nearly 100 players and coaches wired for sound, focusing on the most exciting moments and the best teams on the journey to New Orleans.
  • 12pm — CTV — Road to the Playoffs
    • An inside look at the past season and how each team made it to the playoffs.
  • 1pm — CTV — Sportscentre’s Top 10 Super Bowl Moments
  • 1:30pm — CTV — Top 50 NFL Plays of 2012-13
  • 2pm — CBS / CTV — The Super Bowl Today
    • Originating live from three separate sites in New Orleans, CBS’ James Brown, Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe, and Bill Cowher, along with Greg Gumbel, anchor the pre-game show previewing all the football and excitement leading up to Super Bowl XLVII. NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, reporters Lesley Visser, Steve Tasker, and Solomon Wilcots, will also cover the pre-game activities. CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley will interview President Barack Obama at 4:30pm from the White House.
  • 6pm — CBS / CTV / RDS — Super Bowl Kickoff Show
    • Alicia Keys sings the National Anthem as part of the pre-game festivities, and Jennifer Hudson sings American the Beautiful, joined by the Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus.
  • 6:25pm — CBS / CTV / RDS — Super Bowl XLVII
    • Jim Nantz will call his third title game (2007 and 2010) while Sunday marks the seventh Super Bowl for Phil Simms, which ranks him behind only John Madden among Super Bowl television analysts. Steve Tasker (Niners) and Solomon Wilcotts (Ravens) will serve as sideline reporters.
    • Beyoncé performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show.
  • 10pm — CBS Sports Network — Super Bowl Today Post-Game Show
    • CBS will air its first-ever extended post-game show. The show is scheduled to last an hour after the trophy presentation.
  • 10pm — NFL Network — NFL Gameday Final

RADIO: The Super Bowl can be heard on TSN Radio in Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg; and Team 1410 Vancouver and Team 1200 in Ottawa.

ONLINE: For the first time ever, Canadians can stream the game online and for free on CTV.ca

CBS’ COVERAGE: CBS will have 62 cameras for the game (they usually use between 9 and 12 for a regular season game) including aerial cameras, unmanned cameras and five high-speed cameras. The high-speed “Heyeper Zoom” cameras capture video at a frame rate of 300–500 frames per second. CBS will also introduce a brand-new graphics package.

COMMERCIALS: Chances are you know someone (read: wife, girlfriend, etc.) who only cares about the commercials. Depending on where you live in Canada, and how or from who you get your television stations, the US commercials — that are nearly an entity as big as the game itself — won’t be seen on Canadian screens due to sim-subbing. It’s an issue that comes up so much every February, the CRTC has a webpage explaining why you won’t see them on CBS. There will be plenty of sites on the Interweb where you can view the commercials though.

WINNER: I’m a Green Bay Packers fan, so obviously I’d prefer to see an NFC team win it. Also, if I have to see that idiot Ray Lewis do his stupid Elaine Benes-type dance again, I’ll stab myself in the eye with a cocktail fork. Who you got?

EDIT by Josh: Might as well add in my contrarian view. I’ve got the Ravens winning 24-23. I’m a big fan of Ray Rice and Ed Reed, so that’s what is behind my choice. Also there’s OJ Brigrance, who’s a great story and has a Canadian connection (he won a Grey Cup). Would be fitting for Kaepernick to get it done after an incredible year for rookie NFL quarterbacks though.

FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule: October 16

A bit of misinformation out there on Sportsnet’s World Cup Qualifying schedule, again. However, the correct schedule is now available thanks to the guys in Sportsnet’s soccer department. Ignore any previous information that states otherwise as well as your on-screen guides. They probably won’t update until tomorrow, if they do at all.

I’ve included live and delayed games. Delayed games are marked by an asterisk.

12:00pm – Ukraine v. Montenegro – GolTV
2:45pm – Austria v. Kazakhstan – GolTV
3:00pm – Poland v. England – Sportsnet ONE
3:00pm – Spain v. France – Sportsnet World
4:00pm – Honduras v. Canada – Sportsnet
5:00pm* – Portugal v. Northern Ireland – Sportsnet World
7:00pm* – Italy v. Denmark – Sportsnet World
9:00pm* – Romania v. Holland – Sportsnet World

On Wednesday October 17, Sportsnet World will also show these delayed matches
3:00am* – Croatia v. Wales
2:00pm* – Slovakia v. Greece
4:00pm* – Belgium v. Scotland
7:00pm* – Germany v. Sweden

Also of note, with Soccer on Canadian TV recently shutting down, I’ve attempted to revive the long-term Premiership schedule on here.

Don’t be surprised if there is news involving beIN Sport Canada and TLN soon. Stay tuned…

Rogers Applies to Allow MLB Network to Broadcast in Canada

MLB Network’s expansive (and expensive) state-of-the-art studios have garnered critical acclaim in America.

Every once in a while something comes across the wire that just makes you think, “Huh. That’s… interesting”. That statement couldn’t be more true than when I heard that Rogers Communications has applied to allow MLB Network into Canada. Why is it odd? MLB Network almost directly competes against Rogers’ owned Sportsnet from April through October. Both show live games almost every day (sometimes the same games are on both channels). Not to mention that Rogers has a contract with MLB Network to broadcast six hours of MLB Network’s original programming every week on Sportsnet. Currently those programs are Fast Pitch (Monday through Friday) and the Best of Intentional Talk on the weekend. Rogers also once wanted to launch it’s own Canadian version of MLB Network. That was before the CRTC opened up the sports section of Canadian broadcasting, making the launch of Sportsnet One possible in 2010.

The license for the Canadian “Baseball TV” quietly ran out almost a year ago. Even with increased baseball on Sportsnet since the launch of Sportsnet One two summers ago, many baseball fans still want a channel devoted to their favourite sport. Hockey fans get NHL Network (make jokes about TSN also being devoted to only hockey here), basketball fans get NBA TV, soccer fans get GolTV and football fans get NFL Network. Hell, there are even American imports Golf Channel and Speed for even more niche sports. There was always the thought that a Canadian media corporation would sponsor MLB Network in Canada; however, there was no chance for approval without the support of Rogers, who control baseball content in Canada. Now with Rogers backing, and a sure carriage agreement with Canada’s biggest cable TV provider, it doesn’t seem like anything will stop this application from going through.

One thing that does make me wonder though, what is in this for Rogers? Surely MLB Network will only take away viewers from Sportsnet baseball broadcasts. Maybe not a significant number, but I can’t see MLB Network resulting in more baseball fans. If anything large amounts of baseball on Sportsnet will result in more MLB Network subscribers. Surely it has more to do with the cozy relationship between MLB International and Rogers Communications. Rogers owns all English-language MLB broadcast rights in Canada (Sunday Night Baseball is sub-licensed to TSN). The 2009 World Baseball Classic, distributed by MLB International, was also on Sportsnet. Both Major League Baseball and Rogers have a vested interest in the growth of baseball in Canada. I think this is one of the underlying factors in this decision by Rogers.

Here are some quotes from the “MLB Network Application for Addition to the List of Non-Canadian Programming Services Authorized for Distribution” document. I have only posted key points, and I have bolded a few key remarks within those points. The full document is available at the bottom of this article.

It is worth nothing that MLB Network will show 150 live MLB games per season in Canada, if approved. This is different from NFL Network, which has a special Canadian feed with no live games due to rights restrictions.

MLB International understands that, should MLB Network be added to the List, the service would be available to all distribution undertakings in Canada.

MLB Network telecasts up to 150 live Major League Baseball regular-season games as well as a collection of spring training Major League Baseball games. These programs will support and enhance Canadians’ ability to watch Major League Baseball content.

With all these various original programs, MLB Network will complement and promote the Major League Baseball games that are currently telecast on Canadian services, as well as other MLB Network programming offered while satisfying the Canadian demand for more baseball content and coverage of Major League Baseball in Canada.

MLB International submits that a decision to add MLB Network to the List will comply with the Commission’s general policy that non-Canadian services on the List not compete with existing licensed Canadian specialty or pay television services. The programming offered on MLB Network is dedicated solely to Major League Baseball. No pay or specialty television service operating in Canada today dedicates its entire schedule (or even a majority of its schedule) to programming relating to baseball. MLB Network will not be directly competitive, in whole or in part, with any Canadian programming service.

The niche offering and target audience of the MLB Network is comparable to the niche offerings and target audiences of other non-Canadian services devoted to a single sport that have been added to the List. These include the NFL Network, the Golf Channel, and Speed.

There is no significant overlap between the programming distributed on MLB Network and the baseball programming broadcast on Canada’s pay and specialty services.

Currently, some MLB live games are offered by Canadian specialty services. Rogers Sportsnet broadcasts the most live MLB games in English. TSN broadcasts live MLB games in English, and RDS offers some live games in French. MLB International understands that Major League Baseball Properties, Inc., the licensing entity of Major League Baseball, will continue to license MLB games to these distributors if MLB Network is added to the List.

As noted above, of the 2,430 live regular-season games in Major League Baseball, MLB Network only features up to 150. In other words, the percentage of live games offered on MLB Network is minimal compared to the number of live games that are available through Canadian specialty services like Rogers’ Sportsnet. Any overlap in programming is insignificant to consumers today.

To the small extent that there is program overlap in that MLB Network will also provide some live games, it is MLB International’s submission that MLB Network will complement and supplement existing baseball coverage and grow interest in the sport of baseball in Canada.

Between now and July 13 you can submit comments to the CRTC on whether MLB Network should be approved for carriage in Canada or not. You can do so by agreeing to the terms and filling out the submission form here.

You can read the entire MLB Network submission to the CRTC here (note: it is in PDF format).