When I first moved to Canada, I was amazed by the raft of football on television here. Couldn’t believe I could watch more football on my telly than back in the UK and much of it live.
There was too much of course. Never thought that could happen, but when you not only have the usual football from England, Scotland, Italy and Germany but also domestic action from the likes of Uruguay, Columbia and Greece, well you know that perhaps there’s just too many channels and too much airtime to try and fill.
Just take today as a typical example. There are 23 games being shown live or as-live, from ten different leagues around world, on 9 different channels. Wow.
There’s not enough hours in the day to try and watch all that and have a life!
Thankfully I don’t get all of the channels and have no interest in sitting down to watch the likes of Olympiakos Volos v Atromitos Athens in the Greek League.
How do you keep track? How can you possibly know what’s on and when at all times? Thankfully I have found my football telly listings bible in the truly must read Football On Canadian TV Blog.
I can’t thank the guys that run that blog enough. I’d be lost without it. It’s perfect for planning your week’s footballing couch potato-ness.
What I’ve always been amazed at though is the lack of MLS games on easily accessible television here. Whatever you think of the quality of the MLS, it is our domestic league. Even more so now with two, soon to be three, Canadian teams playing in it.
You had TFC on CBC and some of the other channels, but that’s not really football. I believe that their games in recent seasons were one of the most watched homegrown comedy shows on Canadian TV. If they’d only signed Brett Butt then I think that would have pushed them into the parody playoffs. Sadly for them, they couldn’t even make that.
What always frustrated me was that we were trying to spread the word of the Whitecaps to the Vancouver public and on the move to MLS. For those with a passing interest on seeing what it was all about, they couldn’t, without forking out for speciality channels or finding online streams.
They couldn’t see the excellent atmospheres in Toronto and Seattle. What to expect and to try and bring here. What teams to despise. What players to abuse. All the stuff they should know about their domestic league and the league that their team is going to be playing in.
Ask them to name all the MLS teams, never mind just some of the players, and they’d be struggling. Ask them to name Premiership equivalents and they’d have no trouble at all. They could probably also tell you all the grounds and shirt sponsors.
MLS is a poor product compared to leagues elsewhere as well. I’ll admit that it’s never held any interest to me until the Caps got in to it. Now I have to feign interest in what the likes of Chivas have been up to. That’s not being a Eurosnob. I watched lower league Scottish football ffs.
Having top action from the likes of the Premiership on for hours after hours every weekend can only damage the MLS. The action they’ll see in MLS will never compare. The quality of players on display will never compare. They’ll see some coming to the end of their careers and wanting a last pay day. They’ll know who they are and what they used to be like. The passion on the pitch, and the history that certain fixtures are steeped in, will not be there for a long time.
I can tell you now that there’s going to be some that will be disappointed with what they’ll see from the MLS and the Whitecaps. At least they’ll get some good matchday atmosphere from the Southsiders, until the MLS and TV companies get offended by some of our actions no doubt and try and sanitise that.
It’s hard. Lots of football on TV creates a buzz for people wanting to see live games. Then they go and they think it’s more fun watching at home and at times a lot less hassle and cheaper.
MLS should be on our screens more and it should have been in Vancouver for the last two years. We should have it forced down our throats. I’d have more respect for a company like TSN2 picking up MLS two years ago than just wanting to show the games now that the Caps are about to start playing in it.
The problem the MLS will always face though is that the likes of the Premiership can air at non peak times. MLS games need channels to decide to ditch programmes they can get better viewing figures for and we all know that’s never going to happen. That’s why even the UEFA Champions League got bumped for curling in the past.
The other problem is that even fans like me, who will be going home and away to watch the Caps in MLS, would rather watch the English and Scottish games on Setanta than a match up between Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids.
And that’s not going to change any time soon.