Over the last couple of years, the soccer consumers in Canada had to change their habits out of necessity. With the major rights of the Premier League, Champions League and a few other interesting properties held by DAZN and the Canadian Soccer Business and MediaPro/One Soccer 10 year deal, only FIFA matches and select MLS matches are on regular cable television.
DAZN, right holder of the Premier League, Champions League and more in Canada (image: DAZN)
With changes, comes backlash and the two major Over-The-Top (OTT) soccer content providers in Canada have had their fair share of backlash, some warranted, over the last two years.
A minority, vocal, but a minority nonetheless, has been adamant that the OTT model is killing the growth of the sport and preventing the creation of new fans of the beautiful game. As their sentiment is valid and the fact that the creation of new fans or consumers is harder with the OTT model has the consumer has to be aware of a product to seek it and enjoy it and can not just stumble upon a game and fall in love with our favorite sport, the blame for this reality has often been put on the OTT services themselves and that is where I differ.
One Soccer, official broadcaster of the CanPL (image: CanPL)
From the recent slashing of the soccer department at Sportsnet to the low-ball bids for the Champions League two years ago by TSN, we have seen countless examples by the two major sports channel in Canada of their disinterest for soccer. Granted their views might be backed by metrics I do not have, I have always been convinced that with a similar energy and devotion put behind a product, like TSN and the CFL, soccer can become an important piece in your programming.
Sportsnet, owned by Rogers (image: Sportsnet)
Over the years, the Canadian Soccer Association has bought air time on TSN and other channels to broadcast the games, at a lost. Funds being a finite resource, the willingness to find a partner capable of shouldering that burden was high and thus the Mediapro/One Soccer partnership. It has not been perfect, but games are covered and available, in High Definition, for an affordable cost.
The Sports Network, TSN owned in majority by Bell and ESPN (image: TSN)
What has been missed this whole time is the games on One Soccer, per example next Tuesday’s Canada vs USA Concacaf Nations League game, are available to channels like Sportsnet and TSN, for a fee of course. So if TSN and Sportsnet were willing to pay, they could broadcast the Canada games, CanPL and more.
But they are not, that has always been the problem and will always be the problem until the direction of these corporate entities change.
Ask for soccer, demand soccer.
Until that happens, the soccer consumer will continue to be both a hostage and a casualty of the Media Wars and TSN, Sportsnet, Bell and Rogers are to blame.