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Canadians Enjoy Chaos-Free Premiership, Champions League Broadcasts

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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.

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  1. Scott

    April 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    What about all the talk this winter regarding Setanta losing its rights to EPL games to Sky? Will this affect Canada for the 2009/2010 season?

  2. Ontarianram

    April 4, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Setanta Sports is the best thing that ever happened to football in Canada. Prior to their arrival, coverage of the PL was spotty at best. I can remember countless times where games were preempted for curling or poker or U-19 hockey or some other ludicrous aberration on the cable networks.

    This still happens on TSN by the way. Some key Champions League matches were recently lost for curling coverage (an absolutely ridiculous decision) and I will be unable to watch Liverpool vs. Chelsea this week as I am on Rogers Cable and they have refused to carry TSN2, which is broadcasting the game.

    The sooner Setanta gains exclusive rights to the CL to add to their already excellent coverage of the PL, FA Cup, UEFA Cup, League Cup and various other games, the better as far as I’m concerned. Those who complain about the $15 a month fee should ask how much similar coverage would cost in Europe!

  3. Bishopville Red

    March 31, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Setanta is brilliant. love it. Don’t watch the Rugby, unless it’s the last 5 or so minutes before a football show. Watch bits and pieces of the GAA- especially fun when they play international rules against the Aussie Rules Football thugs.

    I’d like to get GOL, but it’s bundled with a bunch of channels that I have no interest in whatsoever. Fishing network, Hunting and fight networks. Ugh.

    Ironically, for the longest time, we got more English football games on TV than England. This might still be true.

  4. olivert

    March 31, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Setanta Sports Canada is expected to be the new primary Canadian video rightsholder to the UEFA Champions League starting with the 2009-2010 season for 3 seasons.

  5. Fredorrarci

    March 31, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Now that I think of it, I pretty sure Setanta only have the Magners League, which is okay sometimes, but I wouldn’t exactly clear my schedule to catch it. And I find much Gaelic football unwatchable at the moment. So fair enough, on reflection, I suppose…

  6. Richard Whittall

    March 31, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve tried with rugby, I’ve tried so hard. But I do have soft spot for hurling it should be noted…

  7. Fredorrarci

    March 31, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    (the less said about Rugby and GAA the better)

    Now hold on a second…

  8. P

    March 31, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    It is not the Premiership anymore, that title was dropped last year I believe.

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