In an interview with Yahoo, deputy managing director for beIN Sport Antonio Briceño had this to say:
“We are very keen to launch in Canada. My top priority personally right now is to launch in Canada. We do have the application prepared and ready to go. The regulatory environment in Canada is very particular, and we need to have a sponsor to get coverage there. That’s what we are working on. Yes, it’s true that if you go to the (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) website, you’re not going to find an application pending approval at this very moment. Before we can even apply, we first need to find a sponsor. That has proven to be more challenging than we originally expected. We are working very hard every day, and want to launch in Canada as soon as possible.”
In July, I wrote an article about beIN SPORT not being available in Canada and the impact it has had on Canadians not being able to access some prominent European leagues such as Serie A and La Liga. Since it was published, I’ve had responses from beIN Sport personalities Jeremy St. Louis and Ian Paul Joy, who were both empathetic to the situation. While I was encouraged by their responses, the fact remains that the network still is unavailable to Canadians.
I contacted several of the major satellite and cable providers in Canada, including Bell, Shaw, Telus, and Rogers Cable. Each provider indicated that it was aware that the rights to the Spanish, Italian, and French Leagues were acquired by another entity, but other than the customer making a channel request, there was nothing they could do. The other issue is that the CRTC, the entity that regulates Canadian television and radio channels, has been notoriously difficult when dealing with new TV networks. For instance, the CRTC frowns upon networks having exclusive rights to particular programs and instead attempts to mandate sharing of those rights with Canadian broadcasters. As beIN SPORT has exclusive rights to several of the top soccer leagues, this is a sticking point in trying to get beIN SPORT on Canadian airwaves.
With that in mind, I offer the following two suggestions of how beIN SPORT can make its content available to soccer fans in Canada:
beIN SPORT sub-licenses its rights to another Canadian TV network. I mentioned in my previous article that another network had stated on its website that it was interested in working with beIN SPORT to air its La Liga games. Unfortunately, that interest didn’t result in any games being aired last season. Partnering with an existing channel would definitely increase the speed in beIN SPORT getting its games into Canada. However, from a business standpoint, the issue for beIN SPORT would be that it would not generate any more recognition for its own brand. In addition, beIN would likely not have a lot of leverage in potential negotiations with other networks given its situation with the CRTC. If a solution could be reached which was mutually beneficial, viewers in Canada would get beIN SPORT acquired leagues on their televisions fairly soon.