Sportsnet Takes UEFA Soccer Package as Canadian TV Sports Shakeout Continues

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The Rogers Media network secured the 2012-15 cycle for UEFA Europa League games as rival Shaw Media gets set to shutter its Fox Sports World channel.

TORONTO – The tectonic plates beneath Canada’s TV sports market continued to shift this week as Sportsnet secured the 2012-2015 cycle for UEFA Europa League soccer games as part of an agreement with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Sportsnet, a cable sports channel and a division of Rogers Media, last month extended its Canadian TV contract with UEFA for the separate UEFA Champions League media rights to the 2014-2015 season.

Those deals follow rival TSN snagging the exclusive Canadian rights to the high-profile EURO 2012 and 2016 European football championships.

And as UEFA signs deals with Sportsnet and TSN, local broadcaster Shaw Media is backing away from expensive TV soccer rights with plans to stop airing its Fox Sports World cable channel on April 30.

Cable giant Rogers Communications on April 1 stopped carrying Fox Sports World, and rival cabler Shaw Communications did the same Tuesday (April 17).

TV soccer rights on Fox Sports World, which include league matches from Italy, South America and the U.S.-based United Soccer League, were recently divided up between Canadian networks TLN and Score Media.

Shaw Media last year applied to the CRTC to launch Shaw Media Sports as a cable sports channel, a move that would have seen the broadcaster compete for the same expensive NHL, NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball rights that Rogers’ Sportsnet and Bell Media’s TSN channels are knee-deep in.

So much so that Sportsnet and TSN recently sought and secured higher subscriber fees from cable and satellite TV operators.

But Shaw Media last summer signaled that it was backing out of the lucrative sports TV market as it abandoned plans to launch Shaw Media Sports.