Major League Soccer has announced new broadcast agreements in Canada, including a five-year media rights extension with TSN, Canada’s most-watched specialty network, as well as a new five-year agreement with TVA Sports as an official broadcaster, which will see the network provide French-language broadcasts in Canada.
These broadcast agreements will bring unprecedented live coverage of regular season and postseason matches to fans in Canada. Both broadcast partners will also bring the League’s signature events to life, including March to Soccer, Rivalry Week, MLS All-Star Game, MLS Decision Day, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup, with cross platform coverage and promotion for viewers in English and French.
The 2016 season saw historic milestones for MLS viewership in Canada on TSN networks, highlighted by the more than 1.5 million viewers who tuned in to watch the 2016 MLS Cup as Seattle Sounders FC defeated Toronto FC in a penalty shootout. Total viewership for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs reached an all-time high in Canada across TSN’s networks in 2016.
“Coming off the record-setting season the League had in Canada, we are excited to announce these new deals with TSN and TVA Sports,” said Gary Stevenson, President and Managing Director, MLS Business Ventures. “These agreements are a clear indication that our media partners – along with the League and our Canadian clubs – are investing in the growth of the sport in Canada. We are excited to continue our longstanding relationship with Bell Media and partnership with TSN, and also expand our partnership with TVA Sports to the League level. We know these two broadcasters will provide world-class coverage and promotional support of our games.”
TSN, an official broadcaster of MLS since 2011, will deliver exclusive English-language broadcast rights in Canada. During the 2017 season, TSN will deliver exclusive coverage of every game featuring Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a select number of Montreal Impact matchups, marquee matchups featuring U.S.-based teams, along with exclusive English-language coverage of the MLS All-Star Game, MLS Decision Day, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and MLS Cup.
TSN’s extended broadcast commitment will include a new Friday night window in the spring and a game of the week on Saturday nights all season long. The full TSN broadcast schedule with specific start times and network assignments will be released in the coming weeks.
“The MLS brand in Canada is stronger than ever, after an outstanding MLS ON TSN season that saw Canadian clubs making sensational playoff runs and smashing audience records along the way,” said Stewart Johnston, President of TSN. “By expanding our package of games, Canadian fans can expect MLS ON TSN to continue to elevate the League and its players. We are proud to continue to be the League’s official Canadian broadcaster for years to come.”
In addition to being an official broadcaster of MLS, TVA Sports will now be the exclusive French-language broadcaster of Montreal Impact games as well as the exclusive French-language home of the MLS All-Star Game, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and MLS Cup. TVA will air more than 50 MLS games in total per season. The network will also produce a weekly show on the Impact, MLS, and international soccer, and provide editorial and promotional support across Quebecor (TVA’s parent company) media platforms.
“We are very proud of our new partnership with MLS,” said Serge Fortin, TVA Sports vice-president. “This past year, more than ever, we witnessed the support and passion of Canadian fans for MLS. All of our production team, which has shown its quality in recent years, is eager to bring supporters even closer to the action.”
In the United States, MLS recently concluded its second season of an eight-year rights agreement with ESPN, FOX and Univision, that saw more viewers in the U.S. and Canada consume MLS games and content than ever before. MLS’ international broadcast presence is the most significant in League history, as 170 countries now broadcast live matches each week.