- Photo by deegs
Amid all the murmurings about ESPN losing Champions League rights in the US, Canadians, with some notable exceptions, have emerged relative winners in the last few years, even with the initially disruptive introduction of Setanta Sports in the latter part of 2007.
In a perfect world, all the football we’d ever want to watch would be split between three basic cable channels forever and ever, amen. But as long as the Premier League and the Champions League remain as popular, that will never be the case—although Canada comes pretty close.
As it stands now, Setanta gets the early and late matches on Saturdays and pick of the litter for the 10:00 AM EST slot. It also gets the early Sunday PL fixture. While annoyed Canadians have to pay a premium fee ($14.99 a month on Cable providers Bell and Rogers), the trade off is getting to watch weekday, holiday and repeated fixtures that used to go begging on Canadian television, in addition to live Champions League games, SPL matches, on and off Eredivisie and regular Sunday French Ligue 1, plus staple shows like Football Matters and the Friday Football Show (the less said about Rugby and GAA the better), no broadband, no fuss, no muss.
Meanwhile Rogers Sportsnet (basic cable) gets the second 10 AM Saturday pick, and the Score gets the marquee 11 am Sunday morning fixture, so drive-by supporters who don’t mind sifting through the dregs of Justin TV once in a while are okay. In addition to the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga fans can get their fix on GolTV (3 bucks a month and no carrier lawsuits!) and Serie A supporters can catch games (and Bobby McMahon) both on Fox Sports Canada (3 bucks a month) and Telelatino (basic cable). The main sports channel, TSN (basic cable) carries quarterfinal-final Champions League fixtures.
These prices vary of course if you decide to go with a premium package. It’s not ideal, but with one or two exceptions the quality of coverage is very good and the amount of football available without having to go beyond basic cable is substantial. Amid the turgid mess of rights’ acquisitions, it’s nice to enjoy a bit of stability.