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Toronto: Fans should be pumped by TSN deal

TORONTO – Toronto FC business director Paul Beirne says Reds fans should be excited by the news that TSN has won the national MLS broadcast rights in Canada.

TSN, which is the biggest sports-media network in Canada, will show 24 games nationally in 2011. Both Toronto and Vancouver will be featured 13 times, with two of those games head-to-head.

“TSN is a big and very influential sports media outlet,” Beirne told MLSsoccer.com. "[The deal] will help appease soccer fans that have long been frustrated by not seeing soccer highlights and stories featured.”

Beirne suggested that the biggest difference might be found in an increased amount of highlights during the network’s feature program, SportsCentre. Indeed, Canadian Football League fans have long argued that the TV contract the league entered into with TSN was the single most important factor in that league’s financial turnaround in the late 1990s.

The CFL’s Friday Night Football is consistently one of the most watched programs in Canada during the summer and fall months.

Some fans, however, are worried that soccer will be lost on the network, especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Beirne says he’s confident that won’t be the case.

“The reason it took so long to get the schedule out is because of the work that was going on to make sure that [soccer] didn’t get lost,” he said. “Soccer fans should be reassured by that.”

Beirne indicated that TFC would be making an announcement regarding its local TV deal in the next “week or two.” He said that all 32 Toronto games will be available in the Toronto market and that every game will be produced in HD.