Rogers Media Scraps French-Language Sports Channel Plans

The Canadian broadcaster is pacting with TVA Group to help launch TVA Sports this September, in competition with RDS.

TORONTO -- Rogers Media has pulled plans to launch its own French language sports channel.

The Toronto-based broadcaster is to partner instead with Quebec broadcaster TVA Group on its upcoming cable channel TVA Sports launch.

Rogers Media president of broadcasting Scott Moore said TVA is best placed to make a second French-language sports channel work in Montreal.

Moore said TVA already has 40% of the Quebec TV viewing market share, and parent Quebecor Media is the biggest cable operator in the province, ensuring wide carriage of TVA Sports.

So when TVA came knocking four months ago asking if Rogers Sportsnet channel was interested in teaming up with TVA Sports via a program acquisition and production partnership, Moore jumped at the chance.

“It’s good for both companies. It gives us the ability to go to rights holders and offer full national distribution in both languages, and yet we operate separate channels,” Moore explained.

Rogers Media recently struck a separate deal with FX Networks to launch FX Canada here, also with some Rogers Sportsnet sports programming in the mix.

Rogers Sportsnet already faces stiff competition in English-speaking Canada from TSN, Bell Media’s cable sports channel, while TVA Sports will go up against RDS, Bell Media’s French-language counterpart.

TVA Sports has already snagged a package of Ottawa Senators NHL games and Toronto Blue Jays games for its schedule, as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship matches and UEFA Champions League soccer games.

The Rogers Media-TVA Sports pact also follows rival broadcaster Shaw Media abandoning plans to launch its own English language cable sports channel in competition with Rogers Sportsnet and TSN.