Setanta safe for now, but what about the future?
Subscribers to luxury Eurosport channel Setanta Canada probably breathed a huge sigh of relief this week when its owners announced that the Setanta meltdown in the U.K. would not affect things here.
But don't breathe too deeply. Indeed, things will be fine here -- at least until August, 2010. That's when Setanta Canada's deal with the English Premier League expires and who knows what will happen then?
But the thing to remember here is that Setanta Canada is only partly owned by Setanta International. The remaining 70 per cent or so is in the hands of Rogers Communications, which the last time we checked wasn't hurting for money.
What will happen in the next year or so is anybody's guess. But I'm guessing that Rogers kind of likes the idea of having a soccer-rugby-cricket channel, especially when it can get about $15 a month for it. So I'm thinking Rogers will buy out Setanta's share, which shouldn't be too costly considering the state of the Irish-based broadcaster's finances. Then it might want to rid itself of the Setanta name, which will soon be mud, and maybe rebrand itself as, say, the Rogers Soccer Channel or Rogers International Sports Channel.
There are other possibilities. Rogers Sportsnet (wonder how many times the R word has appeared in the post?) could bid for the EPL, though the Brits probably want more than two games on per week. But it would make more sense for Rogers/Setanta to take the package and farm out a game or two each eek to Sportsnet as it does now.
Some have speculated that TSN, because it's partly owned by ESPN, might get the package after ESPN took over the U.K. rights to EPL games.
But that won't happen, even if TSN could get the rights. It simply doesn't have room, unless, and this is just a guess, it wanted more programming for TSN2. That's a possibility, assuming the price is right.
OTHER STUFF: If a justification was ever needed for TSN2's existence, it came Monday when the U.S. Open was extended a day. Without TSN2, TSN would have had to put its Wimbledon coverage on tape delay -- most likely in the evening or wee hours of Tuesday morning. Instead, it just shuffled the tennis off to TSN2 while carrying all of the U.S. Open final round. ... We've had players wearing mikes and even assistant coaches, but TSN may have a first. During Friday's NHL draft coverage, the network will have a microphone on Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, at least for a few minutes. While people wearing microphones have a tendency to pre-edit themselves, TSN is hoping that Burke lives up to his shoot-from-the-lip reputation.