Today it was confirmed by Canada Soccer that for the first time in their campaign to qualify for Russia 2018, a match will be shown on TV. Telelatino, better known as TLN, will be broadcasting the home leg of Canada's round 3 CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Belize.
The match, which kicks off at 7:30 on Friday at BMO Field in Toronto, was previously only going to viewable by an online stream put on by the CSA. That stream, available at CanadaSoccer.com, will still be going ahead for those who do not have access to TLN. Gavin Day and ex-Toronto FC midfielder Terry Dunfield will have the call.
Since a deal with Sportsnet was mutually terminated, Canada Soccer has been forced to stream a number of its games on its website while it searches for a new broadcast partner.
While it appears that the TLN deal is just for this one match, and not part of a bigger arrangement at the moment, it is good news for Canadian Soccer that this match will be viewable by traditional means.
Chorus entertainment, the parent company of TLN, isn't a bad connection to have even if Telelatino is the most applicable channel that could consistently broadcast Canada games should this partnership extend beyond one game. Chorus runs several television channels including cartoon network, Teletoon and HBO Canada.
Canadian soccer has been working hard to insure that should they qualify for round 4 of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which will kick of on November 13, the matches will be broadcast on TV. Having these crucial matches available was a huge reason why Canada gained so much momentum during the 2012 World Cup qualifying campaign.
From an audience standpoint the TLN deal could be a smart one for Canada Soccer. Exposing the Canadian national team to a new audience, composed of viewers from countries where soccer is traditionally popular, could be good for the growth of the program.
TLN is on channel 28 for Rogers cable customers in Ontario, and channel 66 for those who subscribe to Shaw. It is also available through Bell Satellite via channel 700.
There has been no indication yet as to whether the September 8 away tie in Belize will be viewable. Canada Soccer likely will not know if the stadium in Belize has web capabilities until the day of the match. If a broadcast is a possibility than one will likely once again be available on the Canadian soccer website.
Tickets are still available for Friday night's match at BMO Field for as low as $20 on Ticketmaster. This will likely be the last game that Canada play in Toronto for some time so would be a good opportunity for casual supporters to take in a match.
As for where November's games will be played as BMO Field undergoes the second phase of construction, it appears at this time that Vancouver is the favourite. That would make sense considering the more temperate climate, and the fact that the support for the national team in Vancouver has always been strong.