BC Soccer Web’s 2019-20 Guide to Soccer on TV and Online in Canada

-Bill Currie

In our 2019-20 Guide to Soccer on Canadian TV, we do our best to sort through the leagues, service options and hardware needed to help you get the most out of your soccer weekends this season. The TV situation is constantly changing as leagues are added and Canadian broadcast rights are sorted out at the last moment, so come back for updates! (Latest update: August 16, 2019)

Soccer Media in Canada – How did we get here?

When we wrote our guide last year, we celebrated the fact that for the first time, Canadians could watch almost every major match on the planet without subscribing to cable. TSN and Sportsnet had launched internet-only services that could cover most of the needs of soccer fans across the country. Sure, you’d probably need to subscribe to DAZN to watch the Champions League, Spain, Italy and some English Cup matches, but you had a lot of choice as to how you got your football fix in 2018-19.

Fast forward a year later. When it comes to Canada’s most popular leagues, TV is dead. Long live OTT (that’s “Over the Top” Internet services for those who thought cable would always provide everything!). In Canada, almost all of the world’s major leagues are now exclusively shown on internet-only services. The English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Europa League have been vanquished from TSN and Sportsnet. Except for the Bundesliga, Canadian MLS matches and possibly some FA Cup, traditional TV services have very little top flight soccer this season. Your choices are much more limited.

Why did this happen? There’s more to it than just changes in media technology. This is not so much a revolution. It’s more of a coup d’etat.

For decades, TSN and Sportsnet were protected by CRTC policies that limited foreign ownership in Canadian sports channels. While American behemoths ESPN and Fox Sports were ready and eager to take over Bell-owned TSN and Rogers Sportsnet, both were frustrated by the regulations protecting the two networks. ESPN settled for 20% ownership of TSN. Fox abandoned its stake in Sportsnet in 2004. While Rogers and Bell dominate the media market in Canada, they are still fairly small companies in comparison to their global competition. They needed protection. That was, and still is the way the cable television industry in Canada works.

Once Netflix and Amazon Prime were allowed to operate in Canada with virtually no CRTC oversight, the stage was set for global media giants to take over. As a result, DAZN and Spain’s MediaPro are now dominant players in Canada’s soccer media scene. It’s safe to say that more of these online giants, such as Disney, NBC and Fox Sports, may not be too far behind.

Is this a positive development? On the plus side, Canadian soccer fans will have unprecedented access to almost every match in every major European and domestic league at their fingertips in 2019-20. The flip side is that you may need to subscribe to more than one online service, as well as cable television to get all the matches you want. There’s also the technical challenge of getting these online matches on to the big screen in your living room.

We’ll start off with the services and leagues they cover. At the end, we’ll recommend some devices that will help you watch these matches on your TV screen. As always, we only mention legitimate services that hold authorized broadcast rights in Canada.

SERVICES


DAZN

Cost: $20 per month or $150 per year, Free Trial Available

Do you want to watch the most important matches of the year? DAZN is now your best and only choice. Owned by the UK-based Perform Group, DAZN quickly drove TSN and Sportsnet out of the most popular foreign competitions; the English Premier League and the Champions League. They’ve collected an impressive lineup of global leagues, along with summer friendlies, NFL, Major League Baseball, Cricket, Rugby, Boxing, Darts and more. Their partnership with beIN Sports is a bonus as that channel alone would cost $15 per month from a cable provider. Despite some technical issues at launch, DAZN has now gotten their act together. They’ve made it easy to watch matches and highlights on demand, and on most devices. One recent downside is that they seem to no longer provide schedules or on-demand replays for La Liga or Ligue 1. The only way to watch these matches is to tune in live via the beIN channel.

Subscribe to DAZN to watch these leagues and competitions:

English Premier League
Caribao Cup (English League Cup)
English Championship, League 1 and League 2
La Liga (Spain – via beIN)
Copa Del Rey (Spain)
Ligue 1 (France)
Serie A (Italy)
Copa Libertadores
Copa Sudamericana
J-League (Japan)
MLS (Live for Non-Canadian matches and non-TSN matches. Delayed for Canadian & TSN matches)

How to watch DAZN: Apps are available for Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire, Playstation 4, XBox, Android, iOS, and most Smart TVs.

One Soccer

Cost: $9.99 per month or $74.99 per year. $5.99 for 1 day. Free Trial Available

The most recent upstart in Canadian Soccer media was born out of necessity. The fledgling Canadian Premier League needed a media home that would give them the quality and attention they need to succeed. The Spanish-owned MediaPro was looking to go on a buying spree in the global game. The result in Canada is onesoccer.ca; an impressive multi-million dollar investment in Canadian pro soccer that promises to bring domestic and international matches to your screen for at least the next ten years. While the production quality is great, they’ve had some early technical hiccups not uncommon for any new streaming service. It also remains to be seen how much value One Soccer will provide in the Canadian Premier League’s off-season. However, they say they are continuing to add foreign competitions as they become available.

Subscribe to One Soccer to watch these leagues and competitions:

Canadian Premier League
Canadian Championship (The Voyageurs Cup)
Canadian National Team Home Matches
Liga MX (Mexico)
Chinese Super League & FA Cup (China)

How to watch One Soccer: Apps are available for Apple TV, Chromecast, Android, and iOS. A Roku app was added in August, 2019.

Sportsnet / Sportsnet World / Sportsnet Now

Cost: Sportsnet: Varies by cable provider / Sportsnet World: $15-$18 per month / SN Now: Free for most Sportsnet Cable customers, $250 per year or 27.99 per month standalone

How the mighty have fallen. For most of the last two decades, Sportsnet was the go-to for Canadian Soccer fans on Saturday mornings. The English Premier League had multiple games on five different channels. Sportsnet World had even more selection with Scottish matches, Euro qualifiers and more. It’s mostly gone now. Sportsnet has devoted their resources back to 24/7 NHL worship and Toronto Blue Jays infomercials. However, Sportsnet has managed to hang on to the Bundesliga for now. So, if you’re a big German Fußball fan, or just want to track the progress of Alphonso Davies at Bayern Munich, Sportsnet may still hold some value for you. They also appear to have retained the rights to the FA Cup.

One bonus if you happen to subscribe to Sportsnet through your cable provider: their online streaming service Sportsnet Now is usually included free of charge in your subscription. Just go to the website, pick your cable provider, and log in with your account details.

Subscribe to Sportsnet to watch:

Bundesliga (Germany)
The FA Cup (To be Confirmed)

TSN / TSN Direct / TSN GO

Cost: TSN 1/2/3/4/5: Varies by cable provider / TSN Direct $19.99 per month, $4.99 per day / TSN GO: Free for most TSN Cable customers.

Soccer on TSN has suffered much of the same fate as Sportsnet. Their English Premier League matches are gone. The bedrock home of the UEFA Champions League has been chipped away and moved wholesale to DAZN. Same with the Europa League. So, what’s the point of still subscribing to TSN if you’re a Canadian Soccer fan?

For starters, it’s the home of Canadian-based MLS teams. TSN is the exclusive national home for Vancouver Whitecaps, TFC and Montreal Impact matches. They continue to show a selection of MLS matches not available live on DAZN, including the MLS Cup. TSN has also been known to pick up rights to significant Canadian Women’s and Men’s National Team matches.

In August, 2019, we received word that TSN will be showing select matches from the NWSL. This would make it the only channel showing Women’s professional soccer on a somewhat regular basis.

It’s also the home of Euro 2020 and the FIFA World Cup in 2022. There’s a good chance that TSN will also be showing the qualifiers of both along the way.

The future of soccer on TSN is difficult to predict. For now, domestic MLS and the big world tournaments are just enough to stay tuned.

Subscribe to TSN to watch:

Vancouver Whitecaps
Toronto FC
Montreal Impact
Some MLS matches
Some CanMNT & CanWNT matches

Some NWSL Matches

Euro 2020
FIFA World Cup 2022
Possibly some qualifiers for Euro 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022

beIN Sports Canada

Cost: Included free with DAZN / Cable: $14-$17 per month / beIN Sports Connect: 19.95 per month or 209.95 per year.

Qatar-based beIN Sports was created “coincidentally” with that country’s dubious, yet successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Politics and corruption aside, beIN has done a good job in delivering some of the world’s biggest leagues and matches to homes around the globe. There’s a lot of soccer to be had on their service.

La Liga, Ligue 1, and the South American cups provide the star power and the most compelling reasons to subscribe. But why would you subscribe to beIN sports separately when the linear channels (both English and Spanish language) are already included with DAZN?

Subscribe to beIN Sports to watch:

La Liga (Spain)
Ligue 1 (France)
Turkish Super League
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers
CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers
African World Cup Qualifiers.

Other Soccer on Cable TV

The Global game isn’t completely invisible from traditional television just yet. Matches from some major (and minor) leagues still find their way to standard television. Not every local U.S. network affiliate picks up matches. It’s still worth checking the schedule to find them.

NBC – NBC often shows a weekly English Premier League match on either Saturday or Sunday. It usually involves at least one of the Top 5 clubs.

FOX – There’s word that Fox will be showing a weekly Bundesliga match on its standard channel. Check the schedule.

CBC – The national public broadcaster raised some eyebrows a few years ago when it registered the trademark “Soccer Night in Canada”. We’re not yet at the stage where we’re rushing home on Saturday nights to watch Tommy Wheeldon do his best Don Cherry impression, but CBC has dipped its toes in the soccer waters with the Canadian Premier League. They’ve committed to 10 matches on the national network, along with another 10 streamed for free on its online service Gem.

TV5 – This global French channel usually serves up at least one Ligue 1 match every weekend.

TLN / RAI – TLN is once again showing Serie A matches with Italian commentary. We’ll have to wait and see if the RAI specialty channel continues to as well.

ATN: This Canadian South Asian broadcaster held rights to the Indian Super League in 2018-19. No word yet as to whether that relationship will continue into this season.

Odyssey: Major matches from the Greek Super League are available every weekend from this premium Greek language channel.

Additional Online Services

While DAZN and One Soccer are the main online services for soccer in Canada, there are still a few more options out there to watch the league or team of your choice. Many leagues and clubs have started their own online broadcast services for fans abroad. It’s worthwhile visiting the official website of your favourite team or league to see if this is an option for you.

Here are a few services we know of:

GolTV: This longtime service is the home for football from Portugal, Uruguay, Peru and Ecuador.

Fanatiz: This is a service that delivers Argentina’s First Division and domestic cup, along with Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.

USL: Canadian fans can watch the American 2nd Division and below live on YouTube for free.

Streaming TV Devices

It’s one thing to subscribe to an online service to watch on your phone or tablet. It’s another to watch on your big screen at home. Here are the most popular devices that provide the easiest ways to get these matches into your living room.

Apple TV

Apple TV provides the absolute easiest and seamless way to watch live soccer at home. The box connects directly to your TV via a HDMI cable. It allows you to connect to the Internet via WiFi or Ethernet. The remote control and interface is so intuitive that even the most technophobic person you know could use it. It’s fantastic for seniors who are uncomfortable with technology. DAZN, One Soccer, TSN and Sportsnet have Apple apps that work well. The Apple TV box even works seamlessly with your iPhone or iPad, and you can screencast whatever you’re watching on your devices directly to your TV. It’s an elegant solution for your soccer needs.

Google Chromecast

Chromecast is a strong contender as well for your streaming needs. Cheaper than Apple TV, Chromecast also connects directly to your TV’s HDMI port. Connecting and navigating is seamless. Chromecast enjoys a larger selection of streaming apps than Apple TV, but some are of low quality and collect what may be uncomfortable amounts of personal data. You can also screencast your Android phone or tablet to your Chromecast at the press of a button. Almost all major and minor sports streaming services support Chromecast.

Roku and Smart TVs

If you have a newer “Smart TV” built by Insignia, Sharp, RCA, Sanyo or Hisense, chances are it’s running streaming software from Roku. This is good news, as DAZN already has an app for Roku, and One Soccer has added theirs as well.. Roku also makes streaming boxes and HDMI sticks that work reasonably well, but have poor overall selection when it comes to quality soccer streaming apps.

Smart TVs built by other manufacturers may have access to a DAZN app. Check with DAZN to find out if they directly support your Smart TV.

Amazon Fire

DAZN has an app to support the Amazon Fire stick, so it’s useful if you already own one. However, there are much better streaming options available that collect far less personal data, so why buy one?

Playstation 4 and XBox

If you already own one of these video game consoles, you can watch DAZN on your TV now! Simply download the DAZN app from the PS4 or XBox store. Using a game controller for a remote control is clunky, but it works in a pinch. There’s no word on support plans from any other streaming services.

Android TV Boxes

Android TV boxes run the same Android apps as on your phone, and can be an option for TV streaming as well. However, the video quality is often lower than the the other devices. Also, many Android TV boxes come pre-packaged with software designed to access pirated streams that could place your home internet network and computers at risk. Unless you know your way around the technology, these devices are best avoided.

Epilogue

The 2019-2020 season promises to be an interesting one for leagues, fans and technology. As complicated and expensive as it is, it’s designed to make sure you can get the exact matches you want to watch. What was unthinkable even ten years ago is now the norm. It’s the best time in history to be a soccer fan!

Posted in BC Soccer News.