UEFA Champions League Matchday 2 Schedule

Thought I’d post this as matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League offers 8 games live on Canadian television. This includes a bonus game on Sportsnet One as Sportsnet World has cricket.

Tuesday October 2
12:00pm, Spartak Moscow v Celtic – Sportsnet ONE
2:45pm, Cluj v Manchester United – Sportsnet World
2:45pm, Nordsjaelland v Chelsea – Sportsnet ONE
2:45pm, Benfica v Barcelona – Sportsnet

Wednesday October 3
12:00pm, Zenit v Milan – Sportsnet World
2:45pm, Manchester City v Dortmund – Sportsnet
2:45pm, Ajax v Real Madrid – Sportsnet World
2:45pm, Arsenal v Olympiakos – Sportsnet ONE

And as for the Europa League…

Thursday October 4
1:00pm, Panathinaikos v Spurs – Sportsnet
1:00pm, Rosenborg v Leverkusen – Sportsnet World
1:00pm, Videoton v Sporting Clube – Sportsnet ONE
3:00pm, Liverpool v Udinese – Sportsnet World
3:00pm, Newcastle v Bordeaux – Sportsnet
3:00pm, PSV v Napoli – Sportsnet ONE

I also just wanted to say that I probably won’t have a new post up tomorrow; however, you can expect something (likely short) towards the end of the week.

Where Will My Favourite Soccer League Air in 2012?

It’s a question soccer fans across the county have asked themselves all summer. As I reported in the spring, Canadian television contracts for the Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Europa League would all possibly change hands this summer. Turns out they all did. Sportsnet picked up rights to the Europa League back in the spring. It will air on Sportsnet World and Sportsnet One. The other three domestic leagues are still up in the air. More on that later. But, let’s start with what’s stayed the same. Here is a quick league-by-league rundown.

International Matches – Sportsnet owns rights to the vast majority of international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, including all of Canada’s home qualifying matches. Canada’s away games must be purchased from another company. Sportsnet also owns rights to the home matches of Spain, Germany, Holland, France, Portugal, England, Croatia, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic. GolTV owns rights to some matches marketed by Kentaro. These could possibly include Austria, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Wales, Faroe Islands and Kazahkstan home matches, as well as some friendlies. GolTV Canada also owns rights to Brazil’s neutral site and home matches.

UEFA Champions League – Sportsnet is now in the first year of a new three year contract, but coverage remains largely unchanged. Sportsnet, Sportsnet World and Sportsnet One will continue to air 6 matches live each matchday during the group stage (1 Tuesday and 1 Wednesday on each channel). Other matches will air on tape-delay on Sportsnet World. All knockout stage matches will air live, with the final on Sportsnet (and Fox).

Europa League – Sportsnet is also the new exclusive Canadian broadcaster of the Europa League. Sportsnet One and Sportsnet World will each broadcast two matches each matchday. One will air at 1pm ET, with the other following at 3pm ET. Coverage begins with the group stage. I hope to have more information on Sportsnet’s Europa League coverage later this summer.

Premier League – The Premier League is entering the final year of its current three-year contract with Sportsnet. Coverage remains unchanged from last year. TSN2 will have a Saturday morning game. Sportsnet will have a doubleheader on Saturday morning/afternoon. Sportsnet World will show a 10am ET game on Saturday morning, plus all Sunday games. Weekday games will mostly air on TSN2 or Sportsnet World.

F.A. Cup – Sportsnet is entering a new contract with the Football Association to broadcast the FA Cup. The new deals is for six years. They can show up to 59 matches per year beginning with the 5th round proper. It is not clear is matches will only air on Sportsnet World (as in the past), or on the main Sportsnet channel as well. Again, I hope to have more information later in the summer.

Championship/League CupContrary to unverified reports, Sportsnet still owns Canadian broadcast rights to the Football League package. This includes Championship, League Cup and Promotion Playoffs matches for Sportsnet World. Coverage will be similar to last season.

It seems that Sportsnet World has in fact lost rights to the Football League. Most likely to Bein Sports.

La Liga – Bein Sports (owned by the same company as Al Jazeera) owns Canadian rights to La Liga beginning this season. They currently have no channel to show them on here; however, VP of Programming Antonio Briceno said in June that they plan to show those matches here. There is a lot of speculation and mis-information about La Liga airing in Canada. Other than Bein Sports owning the rights, nothing has been confirmed a week from the start of the season.

Serie A – As far as I know, Serie A won’t be returning to theScore. It is likely that Bein Sports has picked up the rights to this league as well. Again, they currently have no channel to show matches on in Canada. It has also been reported in Italy that RAI might drop international rights to Serie A in Italian due to cost-cutting measures from the Italian government.

Ligue 1 – Bein Sports owns worldwide rights to Ligue 1. It falls under the same category as La Liga in that they have no channel to show it on in Canada. One match per week will air in French on TV5.

Note: As I said, there is a lot of misinformation, and speculation on where Bein’s matches will air in Canada. They could buy-in to a current channel, simply sub-license rights to the highest bidder, or even not show the matches at all. I do understand that, to some degree at least, the usual suspects for showing these leagues are interested in the rights. Whether a deal will get done before the La Liga and Serie A seasons kick off over the next couple of weeks, I don’t know. Once I know more about the situation, I will update.

Bundesliga – GolTV Canada still owns rights to the top league in Germany. They can air 2-3 matches per week, as with GolTV in America. GolTV is no longer using international feed commentary for these games. It is now their own commentators calling the matches off a monitor in Florida.

There are plenty of changes for soccer news shows as well. Fox Soccer Report is done. Analyst Bobby McMahon says Thursday will be the last show. So, fans of the show who get Euroworld Sport, tune-in while you still can.

On Fox Soccer in America, Fox Soccer Report is being replaced by a new highlights show produced by another Canadian network. Sportsnet is also launching a new soccer highlights show on Friday night. Put 2 and 2 together… The new show will originate from Toronto. Sportsnet is calling it Soccer Central, while Fox is using Fox Soccer News as the name (no idea which will be used on-air, maybe both). It will air at 11:00pm ET every night on Sportsnet World, with encores the next day at 1pm ET/MT/PT on the regional channels. With Thomas Dobby leaving theScore, I think it’s likely he will land here as the producer. I’ve also heard that Brendon Dunlop may leave theScore to join the show. Otherwise, Sportsnet personalities like Gerry Dobson, Craig Forrest and Kara Lang could appear. To be clear, I’m just speculating on this. Expect an official announcement sometime before the show launches Friday.

The Footy Show is back on theScore as well. The vodcast returns this week and will be on YouTube from Monday through Thursday. It will also air on theScore television on Mondays and Thursdays starting in September. James Sharman and Kristian Jack will continue to host.

Sportsnet is also launching a new series of overflow channels on Rogers Cable (channels 370 through 381). These will carry bonus live UEFA Europa League, UEFA Champions League and World Cup Qualifying matches live.

Thanks to Andy at CanadaSoccerTV for the tip on Sportsnet World’s new overflow channels. Check out his site for the latest soccer TV schedules.

Champions League Final: Tomorrow on Sportsnet and Fox

I’ve got two Champions League press releases tonight. Sportsnet and Fox will both have their own unique coverage of the UEFA Champions League final from Munich tomorrow afternoon. Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest will host Sportsnet’s coverage from Toronto, while Rob Stone, will present Fox’s coverage from the Allianz Arena in Munich with analysts Eric Wynalda and Brad Friedel. I expect Sportsnet will use the international feed commentary (BBC’s Martin Fisher and ESPN’s Craig Burley were the commentators last year), while Fox will use Sky Sports’ commentary with the legendary Martin Tyler and Gary Neville.

First up, Sportsnet’s PR.

All eyes will be on Sportsnet on Saturday, May 19 as FC Bayern Munich hosts Chelsea FC in the UEFA Champions League Final, live from Munich at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific.

SOCCER CENTRAL’s Craig Forrest and Gerry Dobson set the stage for the prestigious match with a special 45-minute pregame show. Stephen Brunt joins the panel with a feature story on Roman Abramovich’s quest to win the Champions League Final as owner of Chelsea. The show will also feature “Forrest’s Finest”, as the Sportsnet soccer analyst names his “Best XI” team from the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League competition. The panel will also provide half-time and post-game analysis of the match.

Prior to game day, fans can prime for the match by visiting sportsnet.ca for the latest predictions and analysis from the panel. Online coverage continues on Saturday, with a full match report, video highlights, photos and postgame analysis.

Following a thrilling comeback against defending champion FC Barcelona in the semifinals, Chelsea earned a berth in the Champions League Final for the first time in four years. Similarly, Bayern Munich upset Real Madrid in the semifinals to clinch their spot in the final.

Sportsnet is Canada’s home of UEFA Champions League soccer, recently announcing a three-year partnership extension through the 2014-15 season.

And Fox.

Only two teams and one game remain in the 2012 UEFA Champions League, the world’s most-watched elite club soccer tournament. On the grandest stage of European soccer, German club Bayern Munich and England’s Chelsea FC face off inside UEFA Fußball Arena Munchen on Saturday, May 19 in Munich, Germany. Bayern has the advantage of being the first team to play a UEFA Champions League Final in its home stadium, while Chelsea is on a quest to capture its first European Cup. For the third consecutive year, FOX Sports is broadcasting this showcase event live, with coverage beginning at 2:00 PM ET.

Live from Munich, FOX Sports’ Curt Menefee serves as event host, with FOX Soccer’s Rob Stone hosting on-site studio coverage. FOX Soccer analyst and American National Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda joins Tottenham goalkeeper and former United States National Team player Brad Friedel for pre-game, halftime and post-match analysis. Legendary Sky Sports play-by-play announcer Martin Tyler calls the match with analysis from former Manchester United defender Gary Neville.

I’ve heard good and bad reviews about both networks’ coverage. I am interested to hear who is watching which channel though. Enjoy the game everyone.

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