Let's get it straight: Setanta Canada still has EPL games
Errol Hinds admits he has mixed feelings about the number of calls and emails from Setanta Canada subscribers wondering if they should be looking somewhere else for English Premier League soccer this year.
On one hand it's a little frustrating to keep sending out the same message, on the other it's encouraging that so many people care about soccer coverage.
Many of those inquiring assume EPL games will be on TSN. They've read that ESPN has taken over EPL rights in England and since ESPN owns a chunk of TSN, they assume that's where the games will go here. (It is possible, though unlikely, that TSN could bid on the EPL package this fall.)
Then there are those who want their money back because they believe they won't be getting EPL games when the league kicks off its 2009-10 season on Saturday.
``Nothing has changed from last year," says Hinds, Setanta Canada's general manager. ``We have more soccer than ever, not less."
The confusion stems from reports on the meltdown of Setanta UK, which went belly up this spring and lost EPL rights. But Setanta Canada is a different entity, as are Setanta Australia and Setanta Ireland and all the other Setantas around the world. Canada's Setanta is mostly owned by Rogers Communications, with Setanta North America a minority partner.
Here are the facts:
1) Setanta Canada will have 130 EPL games this year, the same as it did last season.
2) In addition, Setanta Canada is entering into the first year of a three-year deal to carry all UEFA Champions League games.
3) Setanta Canada's EPL deal, which includes sub-licensing games to Rogers Sportsnet and The Score, expires at the end of the 2010 season. While bids haven't been called for yet, Hinds says his channel will definitely be in the running for a new deal.
``We expect to be here for a long time," says Hinds, who won't give numbers but says subscriptions to the premium-priced channel ``have exceeded expectations."
That assurance probably won't stop the rumours, though many concerns should be quelled when the first EPL game of the season is aired on Saturday. At least, Hinds is hoping so.
DUNGY ON VICK: Nice work by 640 Toronto to get former NFL head coach Tony Dungy Wednesday afternoon, discussing the Michael Vick situation. Good work by host Greg Brady, too. Here's the link if you missed it: http://www.640toronto.com/HostsandShows/BillWatters/Audio.aspx