Big news for Major League Soccer fans in Canada.
On Tuesday morning, MLS announced new landmark media agreements in Canada that include a five-year extension with TSN, and a new five-year agreement with TVA Sports that will see the network provide French-language broadcasts in Canada.
These new deals come on the heels of an historic season for MLS in Canada. On TSN, more than 1.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2016 MLS Cup between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders. That broke the Canadian viewership record that had been set a few weeks earlier during the Toronto-Montreal Conference Championship series. 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.”
For TSN, an official broadcaster of MLS since 2011, the new deal will see an expansion of their coverage in 2017. During the 2017 season, TSN will deliver exclusive English-language coverage of every match featuring Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a select number of Montreal Impact matchups, and marquee matches featuring U.S.-based clubs. They will also provide exclusive English-language coverage of the MLS All-Star Game, MLS Decision Day, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and MLS Cup.
In addition, TSN will launch 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.”
TVA Sports will now be an official broadcaster of MLS and will be the exclusive French-language broadcaster of Montreal Impact games. They will also be 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.”
These new agreements continue a recent trend in Canada for MLS, which in November announced the a new initiative with the Canadian Soccer Association to improve youth development in the nation. The initiative also included a modification to the parameters determining the rosters status of certain Canadian players in an effort to expand their playing opportunities within the league.