To many in Europe, North America is not considered to be a hotbed of footballing fervour. To those of us here, we know that you’ll find some of the most passionate football fans in the world in Canada and the US. The problem is that there’s not enough of us, but at least it’s growing all the time.
One of the first things I was amazed at when moving over here was how much football could be found on our TV screens. Admittedly a lot of it requires extra cash to be shelled out, but for the variety of Leagues and competitions available, it’s certainly worth it. There’s so much more available than you can get in the UK.
Something which is severely lacking in the football coverage we can get in Vancouver though is MLS action and when we have the Whitecaps making the move next season, what we have needed more than anything is for football fans in the city to see what the League is all about, build up their knowledge and interest in our future opposition and rivals and hopefully get their season ticket deposits put down. Even if the lazy bastards don’t want to leave their armchairs, it would be nice for them to develop a desire to watch us in the League next season and beyond, as we own Canada and the Pacific Northwest.
The Caps can do all the marketing that they want. There’s nothing better for creating a buzz than being able to watch the actual product that they’re trying to sell.
It may just be my perception of things, but the amount of Toronto FC games on CBC this year seems to have reduced. Not a great loss, as it saves me wanting to throw something through my screen every time Nigel Reid opens his mouth with the most irritating accent I’ve ever heard on my TV and never heard in my entire life of living in the UK. He’s lauded as being “the voice of Major League Soccer on CBC”. That’s not something for them to be proud of and for that reason alone, I would want to see no MLS action on that network. In fact they shouldn’t be allowed near any football till they get rid of him.
Sure the TFC games are still being shown elsewhere, but they’re all over the place and a lot of them are on channels not free to air and that is prohibitive to the game’s growth and the raising of interest in it and the MLS in Canada.
I’ve personally not had much interest in MLS over the years. That’s primarily due to me not giving a flying fuck about any of the teams or players in the League. I had a short one season interest in Real Salt Lake when Kenny Deuchar joined them. He was a legend of my beloved East Fife, but that move didn’t last past one season.
This season, I’ve wanted to make the effort. I’ve wanted to know who to hate and shout abuse at next year. I’ve got a few identified as getting on my tits, so that’s a good start. I’ve wanted to watch non TFC games, to see other teams and especially Seattle. That’s not been possible without tracking down internet streams. Your average footballing loving Vancouverite isn’t going to be doing that.
When you can readily watch more action from the likes of the Uruguayan league than the domestic one, then something is far wrong.
For all those reasons, it is very important to the future of the Whitecaps that they pick their MLS television partner(s) with a lot of thought. We need to get the Caps out there. To challenge for media attention in a hockey mad city by making a visual impact in everyone’s homes. To have people talking about the winning Caps and not the losing Canucks and Lions. People need to know, and see, that there is a successful, winning team with a long, proud history in their city and the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver to boot.
As it turns out though, that job may just have been made one hell of a lot easier for the Caps as it was announced today that Bell Canada Enterprises have agreed to acquire 100 per cent of CTV, in a deal thought to be worth $1.3 billion.
Assuming the deal is approved by the federal regulators, Bell would acquire all of CTV’s television assests, including TSN and TSN2. As the Whitecaps shirt sponsors, it makes complete sense that they would then want to showcase their investment to the max by having CTV and the TSN networks as the home of Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
And I would love that.
Now of course this is all idle speculation on my part at present, but it would be a deal that would appeal to me greatly for many aspects and one that I hope the Whitecaps and Bell would be announcing soon.
With CTV and TSN having nationwide potential, and the fact that many households in Vancouver and throughout Canada will have at least two of the channels in their television packages (TSN2 is not available to some and others don’t want to pay the extra for it), this would be a fantastic deal for the Caps exposurewise.
It would also have huge appeal in the fact that TSN and CTV have no interest in Toronto FC. We would not need to share our airtime and coverage with another side. We would be their sole domestic footballing output.
I’ve been worried that if CBC get their hands on the Caps next year, we’ll be forced into double headers with TFC games, resulting in horrible, atmosphere sapping early afternoon Saturday kickoffs. Hopefully, with summer sporting schedules being the way they are, CTV/TSN would be looking at placing us in some primetime coverage, meaning decent kick off times.
TSN’s coverage of the football that they do show just now (in fact with most sports on the channel to be honest) is also far superior to what you find on CBC and Sportsnet in my opinion and would be worth looking forward to.
It’s certainly shaping up that the Whitecaps deal with Bell is looking better and better for the Club and the fans. With the promise of exclusive phone material next season already, you would expect something similar with their television arm now.
And who knows. We may yet see Bell putting their name to BC Place, rivalling Rogers Arena. Will we have BCE Place? Bell BC Place? Bell Communication Place, known as BC to all?
That’s all idle speculation for another time.