Toronto, Canada (February 20, 2019) — The Canadian Premier League teased a “landmark announcement” under the Canadian Soccer Business header late Tuesday, sparking speculation that fans might finally get a schedule, a broadcast — or both.
What fans got was mostly just confusing.
Deal made for Canadian Premier League Media Broadcast Rights
— CanPL (@CPLsoccer) February 20, 2019
Around 5 p.m. ET, Canadian Soccer Business announced a ten-year official Media Partnership with MEDIAPRO. This partnership will give Canadians “unprecedented access to to their league and national teams.”
Part of this package will be “an OTT soccer streaming channel, complemented by unique soccer shoulder programming including magazine shows, documentaries and other Canadian soccer programming.”
“Soccer is our cornerstone,” Oscar Lopez, CEO of MEDIAPRO Canada, said. “For us, it’s part of our DNA. We breathe soccer. And, this is special, because this is a 10-year project. Usually in Europe, the period that you can have the rights is three years. It’s not enough time to develop a product or a story. But here, it’s 10 years, and for us, this fits perfectly with our philosophy and our ideas.”
MEDIAPRO’s Broadcasting Experience
MEDIAPRO is a multi-billion dollar company based out of Barcelona with divisions and subsidiaries throughout the world. Lopez, the company’s new CEO, spoke at the event about the 15 leagues they help produce content for.
The most notable of is Spanish league, La Liga.
Canada Soccer Business and Forge FC CEO Scott Mitchell said in the CPL’s release: “Getting a new technology and media company interested in the project wasn’t difficult, but landing a deal with a globally-respected company who wants to invest this seriously in soccer in Canada is certainly a first of its kind for Canadian soccer.”
The Vancouver Courier claims that MEDIAPRO is investing $200 million into Canadian soccer over the lifetime of the deal.
Based on the first media release, the CPL’s streaming deal will be a dedicated service of some kind. Early reaction to this announcement is mixed. Some are saying the move is a step backwards, as new fans aren’t likely to run across CPL content anywhere but traditional TV channel. Meanwhile, others suggest that this move protects the CPL’s longevity and stability, thanks to the long-term deal.
The value of the #CanPL rights agreement won’t be announced publicly, but it’s understood to be “jaw-dropping” for a startup. The survival threshold of a new league is around 10 years, so this deal almost ensures long term survival & growth. Congrats to @ticatmitchell & co!
— Peter Schaad (@PeteSchaad) February 20, 2019
Landmark Event with Hristo Stoichkov
This media event had a lot of the same stylings and trappings of the Volkswagen announcement. The live stream kicked off with CPL.ca managing editor Kurt Larson saying a few thank-you’s.
Meanwhile, Canada Soccer Business CEO Scott Mitchell formally announced the 10-year deal, all leading up to a bit of soccer theatre, which included Hristo Stoichkov praising the work of MEDIAPRO in the best English he can muster. The Bulgaria and Barcelona legend’s presence definitely shows what kind of pull MEDIAPRO has.
Next, Lopez took the stage to provide even more background on the company. He showed an in-depth video about MEDIAPRO’s world-wide lead-up to El Clásico and the sort of behind-the-scenes coverage the company has become known for.
You can watch back the live video here.
Last Word: The Elephant in the Room
After all of this song and dance in the announcement, there’s still no idea how fans are going to access CPL content. There’s no firm information about what a streaming or television service will look like, what it will cost or how it will be implemented.
This understandably frustrated many fans, but that news will come. What was announced today will help create a foundation for the CPL’s media presence going forward. However, fans did get to hear that the inaugural schedule should be released next week.
As first kick approaches, the news will start coming thick and fast. With MEDIAPRO and the CPL working together, expect future announcements and content to have a certain amount of flair and production value — a welcome addition to a new property.