CTV scores Canada Super Bowl rights

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Canadian broadcaster CTV said Tuesday that it has grabbed domestic TV rights to the Super Bowl away from rival CanWest MediaWorks as part of a new three-year deal with the NFL.

Tuesday's deal hands CTV exclusive Canadian rights to the Super Bowl, which for more than two decades belonged to CanWest MediaWorks' Global Television network.

CTV also caught the rights to the main Sunday afternoon regular-season NFL matchup along with every playoff game.

Terms of the first-ever pact between CTV and the NFL, which will cover the 2007, '08 and '09 football seasons, were not disclosed.

"Securing a strong appointment brand like the NFL is in keeping with our program strategy of generating continued upward momentum across the entire CTV schedule," CTV president of programming Susanne Boyce said as she and fellow network executives wrapped up their screenings of U.S. pilots before bidding begins on new American shows.

Barbara Williams, senior vp programming and production at CanWest MediaWorks, said her network passed on renewing the Canadian broadcast rights deal with the NFL because the deal was too rich for the network.

"At the end of the day ... the business reality presented wasn't one that we deemed economically sound in the long term for our networks or our advertising partners," she said.

The Super Bowl represents the most-watched sports event on Canadian TV. This year's Super Bowl on Feb. 4 earned Global Television an audience of 3.36 million viewers, impressive in a TV market where 2 million viewers constitutes a hit show.

In a related TV football deal, Toronto-based CTV in December grabbed the TV rights to the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup championship game away from the rival Canadian Broadcasting Corp. for the Sports Network, CTV's sister cable sports channel.

That deal means Canada's two highest-rated football games will now be broadcast by CTV and TSN, both divisions of CTVglobemedia.
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