TSN lands rights to Toronto FC, staking its claim in sports broadcast wars

TSN lands rights to Toronto FC, staking its claim in sports broadcast wars

Fans cheer the Toronto Football Club as play New England Revolution (Image: Dave Lidbury from the Toronto Life Flickr pool)

TSN won another battle in the ongoing war for sports coverage supremacy in this country, once again snatching a coveted property from the CBC, the Globe and Mail is reporting. The public broadcaster has been fiercely competing with Rogers and CTV/TSN for a larger share of the sports broadcasting market in recent years; all three have been trading properties and high-level executives like hockey cards. Acquiring the rights to the Toronto FC and Major League Soccer is an important piece in TSN’s larger gambit to control the soccer market, and in the process bury the Corp.

Sports media commentator Bruce Dowbiggan has the story:

While [World Cup] 2010 ratings from South Africa were solid last summer, ratings for MLS still amount to crickets chirping. For example, Chivas-Toronto FC on CBC drew just 134,000 in August…

So why all the fuss? Why was Michael Douglas ga-ga for Catherine Zeta Jones? Bragging rights. Soccer TV rights are the trophy bride of Canadian broadcasting. The demographics for women and minorities look swell, the residual glow from FIFA events is sexy, and getting David Beckham to visit your city makes you look younger. Who cares if there’s not much behind the splashy façade?

Apparently, very few people care. We estimate a maximum of about 134,000.

• TSN lands MLS broadcast rights [Globe and Mail]