The Sports Network
The Sports Network (TSN) is a Canadian English language sports specialty service. Established by the Labatt Brewing Company in 1984 as part of the first group of Canadian specialty cable channels, since 2001, TSN has been majority-owned by communications conglomerate BCE Inc. (presently through its broadcasting subsidiary Bell Media) with a minority stake held by ESPN Inc. via a 20% share in the Bell Media subsidiary CTV Specialty Television. TSN is the largest specialty channel in Canada in terms of gross revenue, with a total of $400.4 million in revenue in 2013.
|The Sports Network|
|Launched||September 1, 1984|
|Owned by||Bell Media (80%)|
ESPN Inc. (20%)
(CTV Specialty Television)
(The Sports Network Inc.)
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTVs)
4K (UHDTV) (part-time, selected broadcasts)
|Slogan||Canada's Sports Leader|
Champions Live Here
|Broadcast area||National, through regional feeds|
|Headquarters||Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Sister channel(s)||TSN2, RDS, RDS2, RDS Info|
|Bell TV||Channels 400–404 (SD)|
Channels 1400–1404 (HD)
|Shaw Direct||Channels 135–139 / 421–425 (SD)|
Channels 98–102 / 598–602 (HD)
|Available on many Canadian cable systems||Check local listings, channels may vary|
|Bell Aliant Fibe TV||Channels 100, 102–105 (SD)|
Channels 600, 602–605 (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channels 400–404 (SD)|
Channels 1400–1404 (HD)
Channel 1399 (4K)
|Bell MTS||Channels 21 & 22, 37–39 (SD)|
Channels 1021 & 1022, 1037–1039 (HD)
|Optik TV||Channels 9900–9904 (SD)|
Channels 900–904 (HD)
Channel 905 (4K)
|SaskTel||Channels 111–115 (SD)|
Channels 411–415 (HD)
|VMedia||Channels 30–32, 99 & 100 (HD)|
|Zazeen||Channels 66–70 (HD)|
|Rogers||Channels 494–498 (HD) |
Channels 1161–1165 (SD)
TSN's networks focus on sports-related programming, including live and recorded event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming. TSN was the first national cable broadcaster of the National Hockey League in Canada. Its stint has been interrupted twice by rival network Sportsnet, most recently as of the 2014–15 season under an exclusive 12-year rights deal. TSN holds regional television rights to four of the NHL's seven Canadian franchises.
As of 2015, major programming rights held by TSN include exclusive coverage of the Canadian Football League and Curling Canada's national championships, coverage of the NBA and the Toronto Raptors, coverage of Major League Soccer and exclusive rights to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, along with Canadian rights to the tournaments of FIFA (soccer) and the IIHF (ice hockey), the NFL (shared with sister network CTV), Formula One, NASCAR, the Premier League (split with Sportsnet), Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the Grand Slam tennis tournaments, among others. TSN also receives a large amount of programming through its minority partner, ESPN.
The TSN licence currently comprises five 24-hour programming services; from its launch until 2006, TSN operated as a single, national service. In 2006, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that TSN could operate multiple feeds with a limited amount of alternative national programming—this was followed by the launch of TSN2—a second 24-hour network under the TSN licence that was legally considered a west coast feed of TSN. As of 2010, TSN has been subject to deregulated Category C licensing by the CRTC, which allows multiple feeds to be operated under the TSN licence with no restrictions on alternate programming; TSN used this new ability to operate an autonomous TSN2, along with part-time feeds for regional NHL coverage.
On August 25, 2014, the primary TSN service was re-structured into four 24-hour feeds—TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, and TSN5—with each designated as the primary TSN network for each region of Canada. TSN now essentially operates as a group of regional sports networks similarly to Sportsnet, the 1, 3, 4, and 5 channels air some common programming and simulcast major events, while all five channels are capable of airing programming autonomously—including alternative national events and studio shows, supplemental coverage of larger events, and regional programming (such as NHL games; subject to blackout outside the respective team's market).
Licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on April 2, 1984, as the Action Canada Sports Network, the channel was launched by the Labatt Brewing Company on September 1 of the same year as The Sports Network, or TSN. The network was founded under the leadership of Gordon Craig, a former employee of CBC Sports; alongside coverage of the then co-owned Toronto Blue Jays, TSN also reached a deal with ESPN (itself only 5 years old) shortly before launch to provide additional programs. Although reaching around 400,000 subscribers, TSN's early years were hindered by its initial status as a premium service, bundled in a high-cost package with movie channels such as First Choice and Superchannel, alongside competition with free-to-air sports broadcasts by CBC Television among others.
To improve the prominence of the network, TSN sought to obtain the national cable rights to the National Hockey League—rights that, according to the league, were not sold under the current arrangement with CBC. However, the task was complicated by claims by CBC that it owned the cable rights to the NHL, along with the involvement of competing beer company Molson in Canadian NHL rights at the time. With the help of a Molson employee who was a friend of Gordon, a deal was reached between TSN, Molson, and the NHL to allow the network to broadcast games on cable.
By December 1987, TSN had reached one million subscribers, but the network's staff sought wider distribution for the channel as part of basic cable service; the CRTC approved the network's request for permission to allow TSN to be carried as part of a basic cable lineup. Mike Day, producer of TSN's daily sports news program SportsDesk lamented about the shift to basic cable and the larger audience it would bring, commenting that "one night you're doing a news show that potentially has an audience of one million people, and the next day the potential is five million people."
In 1991, TSN acquired rights to the IIHF World U20 Championship, otherwise known as the "World Juniors", which were previously broadcast by CBC. TSN's coverage, along with the recent "Punch-up in Piestany" incident and a strong performance by Canada at the tournament in the mid-1990s, helped to significantly heighten the profile of the tournament in the country (even more so than in other participating countries), to the point that it is, alongside U.S. college football bowl games, regarded as a traditional sporting event of the holiday season in Canada.
Due to CRTC regulations on the foreign ownership of broadcasters, Labatt was forced to sell TSN and RDS upon its acquisition by Interbrew in 1995. Labatt's broadcasting assets were sold to a privately held consortium named NetStar Communications, the investors of which included a number of Canadian firms as well as ESPN Inc., which held an interest of about 30 percent. The same CRTC regulations prevented ESPN from establishing its own separate Canadian sports network outright, so acquiring a minority stake in TSN became ESPN's alternative plan to get into the Canadian market. The Sports Network launched its website TSN.ca on October 1, 1995.
In 1997, the CRTC began permitting TSN to offer an "alternate feed", which could be used to provide a regional opt-out of the main TSN service for programming that must be blacked out in the rest of the country. Alternate programming could make up a maximum of 10% of the TSN schedule—an average of 2.4 hours a day.
Acquisition by CTV, expansionEdit
In 2000, after ESPN blocked two attempts by the Canadian partners to sell NetStar to Canwest, CTV Inc. acquired the Canadian partners' shares. CTV Inc. was acquired by Bell Canada and The Woodbridge Company (publisher of The Globe and Mail newspaper) as part of the joint venture Bell Globemedia in 2001. As a result of its purchase of TSN, CTV would be forced to sell its regional sports network CTV Sportsnet, eventually selling it to minority shareholder Rogers Media. Following the acquisition, TSN would move its operations to CTV's Agincourt complex. This oddity would become an inside joke between personalities on both networks, who commonly referred to jumping between the two networks as "crossing the parking lot."
Following the sale, TSN began to closer align its on-air imaging with that of ESPN; the most prominent effect of these changes came with the introduction of a new logo looking similar to ESPN's, and the re-branding of TSN's flagship sports news program SportsDesk as SportsCentre—a Canadian version (in both format and spelling) of ESPN's SportsCenter. The CRTC, however, objected to plans to rename TSN as "ESPN Canada", citing concerns that it would sound more like the channel was ESPN's Canadian affiliate, and that ESPN had de facto majority control.
TSN also launched a number of digital specialty channels in 2001; including a local version of ESPN Classic, the NHL Network— a network devoted to ice hockey and the National Hockey League, and WTSN—a channel dedicated to women's sports On August 15, 2003, TSN became one of the first two specialty television services in Canada (the other being fellow Bell property Discovery Channel) to be available in high definition. TSN's first live HD broadcast was of a Canadian Football League game between the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats—it was to occur on the same day, but was delayed to August 16 due to a major electrical power failure that occurred the day prior.
Beginning in 2006, the CRTC officially allowed TSN to operate national secondary digital feeds with limited amounts of alternative programming. Following this development, TSN began to use such a feed to broadcast additional programming that could not be aired on TSN due to scheduling conflicts or other events. On August 29, 2008, the feed evolved into a new 24-hour channel, similar to ESPN2, known as TSN2. Upon its launch, TSN2 was legally considered a west coast timeshift feed of TSN, although soon after TSN2 was launched, the CRTC announced a proposal to remove genre exclusivity protections for "mainstream sports" and "national news" channels in the near future. As a byproduct of the decision, TSN would be allowed to use streamlined conditions of licence (legally referred to as a Category C license as of September 2011), which state that the service may offer "multiple feeds" consistent with their licensed programming format, without any restrictions on alternate programming. TSN was officially permitted to use these streamlined conditions of licence on February 1, 2010.
Acquisition by Bell, TSN RadioEdit
On September 10, 2010, Bell Canada announced plans to re-acquire 100% of CTVglobemedia's broadcasting arm, including its majority control of TSN. Under the deal, Woodbridge Company Limited, Torstar, and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan would together receive $1.3 billion in either cash or equity in BCE, while BCE would also assume $1.7 billion in debt (BCE's existing equity interest is $200 million, for a total transaction value of $3.2 billion). Woodbridge has since simultaneously regained majority control of The Globe and Mail, with Bell retaining a 15% interest in December 2010. The deal closed on April 1, 2011, after the CRTC approved the sale on March 7, 2011 – the new company became known as Bell Media.
After a longstanding speculation about TSN's interest in launching its own TSN-branded radio network (similarly to its U.S. counterpart), TSN entered radio broadcasting with the launch of the first TSN Radio station, a relaunch of AM station CHUM in Toronto on April 13, 2011. Bell Media's Bell Media Radio division already operated several sports radio stations elsewhere in Canada (most of which were branded as The Team, a name introduced by previous owner CHUM Limited in its own failed attempt at establishing a national sports radio network), it was reported that Bell could theoretically relaunch these other stations under the TSN Radio brand in the future.
Also in 2011, TSN acquired broadcast rights to the returning Winnipeg Jets. TSN would establish another part-time feed, TSN Jets, to broadcast the games. Additionally, co-owned CFRW would also gain radio rights to the new Jets. CFRW, along with Montreal station CKGM, also migrated to the TSN Radio brand on October 5, 2011. Additionally, Bell would also launch TSN Mobile TV, streaming versions of TSN and TSN2 offered through Bell Mobility's Mobile TV services.
On December 9, 2011, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan announced that it would sell its majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to two major telecommunications companies; Bell Canada (TSN's main parent company) and Rogers Communications (owners of the competing Sportsnet chain of sports channels) with a 37.5% share each (Larry Tanenbaum increased his ownership to a quarter of the company as well), in a deal expected to be valued at around $1.32 billion in total. The deal was completed in summer 2012, following the approval of Canada's Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (with regards to MLSE's television channels), as well as the leagues for each of MLSE's main sports franchises. The deal was expected to have a major impact on future broadcast rights for MLSE's teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, as their ownership of the teams will offer enhanced coverage for the team through new platforms such as mobile television.
In March 2014, TSN launched its TV Everywhere service TSN Go, allowing subscribers to TSN on participating service providers to stream TSN networks online or through a mobile app. On launch, TSN Go was available exclusively to Bell TV and Rogers Cable subscribers. It has since been expanded to other providers, such as Shaw.
Loss of national NHL rights, expansion into regional serviceEdit
Following the announcement of Bell and Rogers' acquisition of MLSE, concerns were again raised by critics, speculating that Bell Media could attempt to acquire full rights to the NHL after CBC's current contract with the league expires in the 2013–14 season – using their ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the NHL's highest valued franchise, as an impetus for such a coup. Concerns were also raised that such an arrangement could prevent wireless service providers other than Bell and Rogers from accessing its content; the CRTC had ruled in favour of Telus in a decision requiring Bell and other media companies to allow other competing wireless providers access to its content, and not exclusively tie it to their own service (as they had attempted to do with TSN Mobile TV). However, in November 2013, Rogers Communications announced that it had reached a 12-year deal to become the sole national television rightsholder of the NHL, beginning in the 2014–15 season.
Critics considered Rogers' move to be a major blow against Bell and TSN, showing concerns for how the network could sustain itself without what is considered a key property in Canadian sports broadcasting. However, they also acknowledged the network's continuing rights to IIHF hockey tournaments (including the popular World Junior Hockey Championships), the Canadian Football League (who renewed their contract with TSN without allowing any outside bidders in 2013 and whose current contract lasts through 2018), and TSN's growing regional NHL rights portfolio, including the Maple Leafs—which would, beginning in the same season, air 26 games on TSN per season. In a series of Twitter posts by TSN personality Bob McKenzie, he explained that even with the loss of national NHL rights, TSN's goal was to remain "THE source for all things hockey" through its analysis programs and regional coverage, and that this was not the first time that TSN had lost its cable rights to the NHL (having lost them to CTV Sportsnet for a period upon its launch in 1998).
On May 6, 2014, TSN announced that it would launch three new channels—TSN3, TSN4, and TSN5, in September 2014 to coincide with the network's 30th anniversary. TSN president Stewart Johnston described the expansion as an "important evolution" for the network, as it would allow TSN to make more efficient use of its portfolio of sports properties: the network promoted that these new channels would allow TSN to broadcast a larger amount of ESPN content and live events, particularly including expanded coverage of major events (such as Grand Slam tennis, curling tournaments, and the NCAA basketball tournament) with multiple games occurring simultaneously. Although the expansion was discussed by TSN staff as early as 2012, critics considered the loss of NHL rights to Rogers (which had recently launched its seventh Sportsnet-branded television service with its acquisition of The Score, now Sportsnet 360) to be a catalyst for the move, as TSN attempts to defend its position as the largest specialty television service in Canada in terms of total revenue.
The launch date of these new channels were pushed up to August 25, 2014, in order to allow multi-court coverage of the 2014 US Open tennis tournament, which began the same day. TSN also announced that it would use these new channels to house regional NHL games beginning in the 2014–15 season, featuring the Jets, Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators.
On January 13, 2016, TSN announced that it would present its first telecast in 4K ultra high-definition—a Toronto Raptors basketball game—on January 20, 2016. It was followed by a slate of regional NHL games and other Raptors games in the format.
On June 7, 2018, TSN announced that it would offer its channels as part of an over-the-top subscription service branded as "TSN Direct", competing with Sportsnet's similar Sportsnet Now subscription.
As is permitted for all Category C sports services, the TSN licence is permitted to have multiple channels, and currently encompasses all of the channels listed in the table below. However, unlike premium services like The Movie Network, subscribers receiving one TSN channel are not necessarily automatically entitled to receive all additional channels, and in many cases they are (or previously were) only available by paying a separate charge to a service provider. For example, until 2013, Rogers Cable customers were required to subscribe to the HD Specialty Pack add-on in order to receive TSN HD (whereas most other HD simulcast channels were provided at no additional charge). On many providers including Rogers, TSN1, 3, 4 and 5 are included in a single package, but TSN2 is still provided only as part of a separate higher-tier package.
On May 6, 2014, TSN announced plans to launch three additional multiplex channels, for a total of five 24-hour national channels. The existing "TSN" service was replaced by four regionally-focused channels (referred to as "feeds")—TSN1, 3, 4, and 5—similar to the Sportsnet regional channels. All five channels are available nationally, but on most local providers, the channel location previously occupied by TSN's primary service was filled by the appropriate regional feed. While major sports telecasts are simulcast across TSN1, 3, 4, and 5 to ensure national coverage, alternative studio shows and live events can also be split across the channels. The feeds carry a small amount of programming tailored towards their respective regions, including simulcasts of lunch-hour shows from TSN Radio stations in their relevant region, and regional NHL coverage. When TV listings and promotions make a reference to a program airing on "the TSN network" or simply "TSN" without disambiguation, it can normally be assumed that the program will be simulcast on TSN1, 3, 4 and 5.
Their launch date was originally announced as September 1, 2014, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of TSN's launch, but was moved up to August 25 in order to accommodate multiple-court coverage throughout the 2014 US Open. Prior to the launch of the additional feeds, Bell executives stated that the expanded five-channel service would be offered for the same rate as was charged at the time for TSN and TSN2 together. Notwithstanding this claim, some providers, including Shaw Cable, have elected to charge extra for some of the new feeds. Most major Canadian television providers carried the new channels upon their launch, including Bell, Cogeco, Eastlink, MTS, SaskTel, Shaw, Source Cable, Rogers, and Telus.
Videotron, a cable provider which primarily serves the province of Quebec, was a notable hold-out for the new feeds. On October 13, a Monday Night Football game was left unavailable in English (due to a rained out MLB playoff game, RDS2 was able to carry the game in French) to Videotron subscribers because TSN5—the only feed it carried—was airing a regional Ottawa Senators/Florida Panthers NHL game (a game which also attracted infamy for having the lowest attendance of any Panthers game in team history). On October 16, 2015, Videotron president Manon Brouillette responded to complaints by subscribers surrounding the incident, and confirmed that it had reached a deal in September to carry the new feeds; the addition of TSN1 to the lineup was accelerated to October 20, 2014, to ensure the availability of that week's Monday Night Football game, with the remainder added on October 29, 2014. On November 27, 2016, a one-time overflow channel was used to broadcast a regional Ottawa Senators game due to conflicts with the 104th Grey Cup (which featured the Ottawa RedBlacks, and was being simulcast across all TSN regional feeds).
The current TSN feeds, and any programming unique to each feed as per TSN's current TV schedules (subject to pre-emption by either ESPN or TSN due to live events), is shown below.
|Channel||Launch date||Description and programming|
|TSN1||September 1, 1984
August 15, 2003 (HD)
|Originally established as the primary, national TSN service since its launch, on August 25, 2014, this feed was renamed TSN1 and became the primary TSN feed for viewers in British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon.|
On August 15, 2003, TSN launched a high definition simulcast, branded as TSN HD, airing widescreen and high-definition feeds of programming when available. As virtually TSN's entire schedule is now broadcast in HD, the separate branding was dropped from on-air usage in 2013, and the HD feed is now letterboxed for standard definition viewers. All of the other TSN channels below have had HD simulcasts available since their respective launch dates.
|TSN2||August 29, 2008||Replaced a part-time "alternate feed" in operation since 1997. For the most part, it has served as an overflow channel for TSN's various sports rights, particularly when all four "regional" feeds are jointly carrying another major event.|
|TSN3||August 25, 2014||The primary TSN feed for viewers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northwestern Ontario.|
|TSN4||The primary TSN feed for viewers in most of Ontario.|
|TSN5||The primary TSN feed for viewers in eastern Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.|
|TSN 4K||January 20, 2016||A part-time feed for telecasts presented in 4K UHDTV, including selected Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Canadian Football League games. The telecasts are currently carried on special 4K event channels on Bell Fibe TV (1399), Rogers Cable (999) and Telus Optik TV (905), accessible via their 4K-specific set-top boxes (Rogers Cable also airing 4K telecasts from Sportsnet).|
The other sports channels owned or managed by Bell Media and ESPN Inc., including ESPN Classic, NHL Network, and the French-language Réseau des sports and related channels, operate under separate licences.
|Channel||First air date||Last air date||Description and programming|
|Canadiens on TSN
|October 25, 2010||April 10, 2014||A part-time feed which carried English-language regional broadcasts of Montreal Canadiens games from 2010 to 2014, in the eastern Canadian territory shared by Montreal and the Ottawa Senators. It was provided at no additional charge to customers in this region who subscribed to TSN through Bell Satellite TV, Bell Fibe TV, Bell Aliant FibreOP, and Shaw Direct.|
|Jets on TSN
|September 20, 2011||April 11, 2014||A premium channel which carried regional broadcasts of Winnipeg Jets games from 2011 to 2014, restricted to the Jets' NHL home territory of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and parts of northwestern Ontario. The channel cost $9.95 per month for the duration of the NHL season; a free preview was offered for the first few months of the Jets' inaugural season. Jets games moved to TSN3 for the 2014–15 season.|
TSN's flagship news program is SportsCentre, a sports news program airing several times throughout the day. Formerly known as Sportsdesk, it was revamped to closer resemble ESPN's own SportsCenter (including the use of its theme music, logo, and opening) in the Fall of 2001 as part of a corporate restructuring, closer aligning itself with minority owner ESPN. In 2006, a new studio was built in order to prepare the show for its transition to high definition – becoming the first daily news program in Canada to be produced in HD beginning on September 25, 2006. Other original programs on TSN include the daily hockey news program That's Hockey, SportsCentre-branded countdown shows, the automotive newsmagazine Motoring, and TSN The Reporters.
In connection with ESPN's minority ownership in TSN, the network has a long-term agreement with ESPN International for the Canadian rights to ESPN original and studio programs, including Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn, Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Live, Baseball Tonight, ESPN FC, and ESPN Films documentaries including the 30 for 30 series, among others, though it does not always air these programs simultaneously with their U.S. broadcasts.
In 2012, as part of promotion for the 100th Grey Cup, TSN produced its own anthology of documentary films, Engraved on a Nation, focusing on stories related to the Grey Cup and CFL. In 2019, TSN revived the series with a second season, chronicling other major figures in Canadian sports.
Significant domestic broadcast rightsEdit
TSN is a major broadcaster of ice hockey in Canada; it holds rights to Hockey Canada tournaments, which includes the Allan Cup, Royal Bank Cup, Telus Cup and Esso Cup, as well as IIHF tournaments such as the Men's and Women's World Championships, the IIHF World Junior Championships, and the IIHF World U18 Championship.
From 1987 to 1998, and again from 2002 to 2014, TSN held national cable rights to broadcast the NHL in Canada. Under its most recent contract, TSN aired regular season games on weeknights and Sundays, including exclusivity on Wednesday nights, as well as various Stanley Cup Playoffs games, as the league's secondary rightsholder after CBC Sports. Its most recent contract expired at the end of the 2013–14 NHL season (following the 2014 NHL Draft); Rogers Communications (owners of Sportsnet) secured a twelve-year contract for sole national rights beginning with the following season. TSN's then-parent company CTVglobemedia attempted to strike a similar exclusive deal in 2006 ($1.4 billion over ten years), but was not successful. CTV acquired the rights to The Hockey Theme, which has been the theme song of Hockey Night in Canada for 40 years, after the CBC decided not to renew its rights to the theme song in June 2008 amid a legal dispute with its composer, Dolores Claman. A reorchestrated version of the tune has been used for hockey broadcasts on TSN and RDS since fall 2008.
TSN continues to hold four regional, English-language rights contracts:
- Winnipeg Jets: 60 games per season through 2020–21; aired regionally on TSN3.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 26 games per season beginning in 2014–15 (indefinite due to Bell's co-ownership of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment; remaining regional games split with Sportsnet Ontario); aired regionally on TSN4.
- Ottawa Senators: 60 games per season beginning in 2014–15 through to the 2025-2026 season; aired regionally on TSN5.
- Montreal Canadiens: 50 games beginning in 2017–18, aired regionally on TSN2.
The channel also previously held rights to the country's university football playoff tournaments, including the Hardy Cup, Uteck Bowl, Mitchell Bowl and the Vanier Cup championship. The Hardy Cup coverage reverted to Shaw TV in 2014 while the Uteck, Mitchell and Vanier contests moved to Sportsnet, who acquired exclusive rights to CIS tournaments in May 2013.
TSN splits rights to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Toronto Raptors with Sportsnet, by virtue of the league's Canadian media rights being managed by Raptors owner MLSE. A TSN broadcast of game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals featuring the Raptors set a record for the most-watched NBA broadcast in Canada.
TSN acquired Canadian rights to Major League Soccer in 2011, airing 24 matches during the 2011 season that involved the league's Canadian clubs, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Its slate expanded to 30 games in 2012 with the debut of the Montreal Impact in the league. TSN's channels broadcast a package of other regular-season games, the MLS All-Star Game, MLS Cup Playoffs and the MLS Cup. In January 2014, TSN announced that it would take over broadcast rights to Whitecaps games beginning in the 2014 Major League Soccer season, under a separate deal. On October 27, 2011, Bell Media and TSN announced that they had secured broadcast rights for FIFA soccer tournaments from 2015 to 2022. The rights include the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup hosted by Canada.
In 2017, TSN reached a 5-year extension to its Major League Soccer broadcasting rights.
TSN holds exclusive rights to Curling Canada's Season of Champions series through 2020, which includes Canada's women's and men's national championships, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Horton's Brier, along with the World Curling Championships. It also organizes the Pinty's All-Star Curling Skins Game, an annual skins curling tournament.
TSN has hosted much of Canada's supplementary Olympic coverage, being the first pay television channel in the world to ever broadcast the Olympics with the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and having been part of the CBC's coverage from 1998 to 2008. In 2010, TSN began to participate in CTV and Rogers' joint broadcast rights to the Olympic Games for 2010 and 2012. TSN continued to be a part of CBC's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but also in conjunction with Sportsnet (who participated in the CTV/Rogers coverage).
TSN has also historically been a broadcaster for Major League Baseball in Canada, as its former parent company, Labatt, was also the owner of the Toronto Blue Jays. Under Rogers ownership, TSN continued to sub-license a package 25 of Blue Jays games per-season, with the rest of the games televised by the co-owned Sportsnet, who is also the primary rightsholder of Major League Baseball in Canada. In 2010, TSN traded its Blue Jays games to Sportsnet for rights to ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. In 2014, TSN reached a deal directly with MLB International for Canadian rights to all of ESPN's MLB coverage, adding Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball beginning in the 2014 season.
In May 2011, Bell Media and Skate Canada announced a 10-year rights agreement making CTV, TSN and RDS the official broadcasters of Skate Canada. As part of the agreement, CTV, TSN and RDS acquired exclusive multimedia rights to all of Skate Canada’s premier domestic events including Skate Canada International and the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.
Significant international broadcast rightsEdit
Along with its coverage of Canadian events, TSN also airs coverage of international sporting events (primarily American), often simulcast from other broadcasters.
As of the 2017 season, TSN serves as the exclusive cable rightsholder of the National Football League in Canada, alongside terrestrial rightsholder CTV, carrying Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football (whose rights were previously held by Rogers and Sportsnet, and are simulcast with CTV2 for simsub purposes), as well as Sunday afternoon games and simulcasts of the Super Bowl. TSN also carries ESPN's NFL studio programs, including NFL Live, Sunday NFL Countdown, and Monday Night Countdown.
TSN is the exclusive rightsholder in Canada for all four Tennis Grand Slams; in 2012, the channel signed multi-year extensions for the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon., followed by the US Open the following year. In 2016, TSN also re-gained rights to non-domestic ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and ATP World Tour 500 series events (excluding the Rogers Cup due to exclusive media and sponsorship rights held by Rogers Media and Sportsnet, sold separately from other events).
TSN is also the rights holder for all four of golf's major championships – The Masters (first two rounds, and late-round coverage on CTV beginning 2016) , US Open, British Open (late-round coverage in simulcast with NBC and CTV since 2016) and PGA Championship. In addition, it carries the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup and simulcasts the RBC Canadian Open.
On December 22, 2014, it was also announced that Bell Media had acquired Canadian rights to UFC mixed martial arts, beginning in 2015. TSN's networks air all major events, including PPV preliminaries, domestic UFC Fight Night events, and The Ultimate Fighter. TSN also sub-licensed portions of its rights to fighting sports-oriented specialty channel Fight Network, which aired international Fight Night events and preliminaries for non-PPV events. The contract also includes French-language rights for RDS. The contract with Bell was renewed in December 2018; the Fight Network sub-licensing agreement was dropped, giving TSN rights to non-PPV preliminaries, and also adding Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series. The renewal coincided with the assumption of U.S. rights to the UFC by minority partner ESPN.
Through minority owner ESPN, TSN and RDS also hold exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to several other events which ESPN either owns outright, such as the X Games, or for which it owns the worldwide broadcast rights, such as the College Football Playoff, the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship (sublicensed from ESPN International since 2011), the World Series of Poker, and its boxing coverage.
In the 2013-14 season, TSN began to air more regular season college basketball games, with a particular focus on the Kansas Jayhawks due to their addition of Thornhill, Ontario native Andrew Wiggins.
In August 2009, TSN and TSN2 began airing live and delayed coverage of Australian Rules Football. Selected games from the Australian Football League (AFL) Premiership Season and Finals Series including the AFL Grand Final are broadcast live or on delay every weekend.
On December 19, 2014, Bell Media announced that it had acquired rights to the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for TSN and RDS beginning in 2015, with portions sub-licensed to beIN Sports. TSN lost Champions League and Europa League rights to DAZN after the 2017-18 season.
In the 2014–15 season, TSN began to broadcast a package of NCAA Division I college hockey games, including regular season games (mainly simulcast from regional sports networks) and the NCAA tournament and Frozen Four (whose rights are owned by ESPN).
On February 1, 2011, TSN announced that they had acquired the rights to the Tour de France in a "multi-year" deal. This deal ultimately lasted for three years; the rights were acquired by Sportsnet in 2014.
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TSN featured live professional wrestling in the form of World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship show, WWE Raw for over a decade. However, the Raw program, which aired live, occasionally had been censored live for extremely violent scenes, or when female wrestlers or characters were assaulted by male wrestlers. These actions are supposed to be in order to meet Canadian broadcast standards, with repeat broadcasts often more heavily edited. This disappointed many wrestling fans over the years, and is unusual since the violence of wrestling scenes are not significantly different from other television programs aired on regular Canadian networks. (WWE has since toned down the level of violence and sexuality on its programming to meet standards for the U.S. TV-PG rating.)
It was expected that in fall 2006, when TSN started airing the ESPN iteration of Monday Night Football (as well as the NBC Sunday Night Football games), that WWE Raw would air on tape delay during the NFL season. However, WWE instead decided to move the program to rival sports network The Score (now known as Sportsnet 360) rather than air on tape delay, although Raw was still aired on a 15-minute delay due to limits on the amount of live programming that channel could air in a week. As of Raw 1000 in 2012, the program is aired without a tape delay.
The final episode of WWE Raw on TSN aired July 31, 2006; the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony was also aired on the network, but no other professional wrestling programming is known to have aired on the channel since then (though TSN's sister network E! Canada does air the WWE reality show Total Divas). Off The Record with Michael Landsberg continues to occasionally feature professional wrestlers in unscripted interviews, which it has throughout its run.
In 2004, both TSN and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA Wrestling), (known then as NWA-TNA), erroneously announced that Impact! would air on the network, although that deal was never completed and the article on the TSN Wrestling page was taken down shortly after. However, TSN's French-language sister network RDS airs the program.
In past years, TSN also aired shows from the American Wrestling Association (AWA), Stampede Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) Monday Nitro, as well as producing a one-hour show called Pro Wrestling Plus, which featured highlights from various promotions and was hosted by Stampede announcer Ed Whalen; that program was the Canadian equivalent of the syndicated American program Pro Wrestling This Week.
TSN's contract with WWE was due to expire in 2014
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