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Rogers SportsNet Grabs TV Soccer Package

Canadian pro soccer game telecasts the latest TV rights to be fought over by rival broadcasters.

TORONTO -- All eyes are on cable sport channels as the Canada's TV sport rights shake-up continues.

After domestic cable sports channel TSN signed a six-year national broadcast deal with Major League Soccer, rival Rogers Sportsnet has snagged a regional TV deal to air 21 Vancouver Whitecaps FC games this season.

The Major League Soccer deal will also see Rogers Sportsnet in 2012 and 2013 air 24 Whitecaps FC matches each season. The regional deal by the Rogers’ regional sport channel answers TSN and its TSN2 subsidiary channel will air 24 MLS regular season games this season featuring Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Then through the 2012 to 2016 seasons, TSN and TSN2 will air at least 30 games involving Toronto, Vancouver and the expansion Montreal Impact FC, which enters the league in 2012.

Despite TSN’s national package with the MLS, rival broadcasters bid separately for the local rights to league games in Toronto and Vancouver, and in Montreal from 2012.

TSN, as the official broadcast partner for the league, was first in line to bid on the Toronto and Vancouver games this coming season. The CBC and Rogers Sportsnet previously broadcast Toronto FC games since the MLS’ first Canadian team entered the league in 2007.

For the 2011 campaign, Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and Rogers Sportsnet ONE will air 20 of the 21 Whitecaps FC games, with City TV Vancouver broadcasting the remaining match on June 4.

“This package solidifies our position as the sports leader in British Columbia,” Scott Moore, president of broadcasting at Rogers Media, said.