Home Business of Soccer Five more years — Sportsnet renews TV deal with Canadian Soccer Association

Five more years — Sportsnet renews TV deal with Canadian Soccer Association

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Five more years.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced Tuesday that it has extended its broadcast agreement with Rogers Sportsnet, a deal that will extend to 2016.

“We are very proud to continue our partnership with the Canadian Soccer Association and strengthen our commitment to growing the sport of soccer in Canada ,” said Navaid Mansuri, Vice-President of Finance anf Sports Programming, Rogers Media, in a release issued by the CSA “Our new agreement allows us to offer fans every opportunity to tune into Canadian matches live wherever they choose to watch.”

The first two Canadian World Cup qualifiers aired on Rogers’ specialty network, Sportsnet One, rather than the regional networks offered on most lower-tier cable and satellite packages. Conflicts with Major League Baseball forced a delay in the broadcast of Toronto FC’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Real Esteli earlier this summer, prompting a vitriolic anti-Sportsnet Twitter campaign from TFC supporters.

Even though the national soccer team vies for a spot in the world’s biggest sporting tournament, and soccer is the most important international sporting measuring stick of all , the national team is rarely at the top of Sportsnet’s web coverage or is prominently featured across the networks. Fair enough — Rogers owns the Toronto Blue Jays, and it is smart business for the network to make airing the club’s games to the widest possible audience.

But CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli strongly hinted that Rogers would be, ahem, encouraged to make Canada’s friendlies and qualifiers available to wider audiences.

“We are committed to creating opportunities for Canada ’s teams to play at home and abroad and look forward to working closely with Rogers Sportsnet to ensure that these matches are available to as many Canadians as possible.”

No Sportsnet channel is broadcasting Canada’s Oct. 7 World Cup qualifier at St. Lucia, but Sportsnet One will have the Canada-Pueto Rico match on Oct. 11.

Right now, soccer fans in Canada can look at the coverage TSN has provided of the national rugby team with jealousy. The team’s win at the Rugby World Cup early Tuesday morning was at the top of the TSN website, and the network will replay the match Tuesday night in prime time.

It’s the kind of focus that soccer fans haven’t got on Sportsnet to this point.

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