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  • Toronto FC has to get off the GOL



    It's no secret that Aron Winter has a number of priorities this off-season in the hopes of maximizing the club's on-field performance in 2012: sorting out the goalkeeping situation, shoring up the central defence, coming to terms with Joao Plata and Richard Eckersley, improving the squad's depth... you know, that sort of thing.

    Winter's bosses at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment surely have plenty of priorities of their own, on the soccer front and many others. But if they are serious about Toronto FC, if they are serious about growing its fanbase and entrenching it as a legitimate part of the city's sporting landscape, there is one thing they absolutely must do for 2012.

    Toronto FC's front office has to get the majority of the team's games off of specialty pay channel GOL TV, and back onto broadcast television.

    Of the 36 games known at the start of the year (34 MLS matches, plus two Canadian Championship games against FC Edmonton), the broadcaster breakdown was as follows:

    • GOL TV: 21
    • TSN: 12
    • Sportsnet: 2
    • TSN2: 1

    Nearly 60% of the team's regularly-scheduled games set to be broadcast on a specialty channel that most viewers don't get -- a channel, of course, that's also owned by MLSE. Prior to 2011, the broadcast schedule was a bit more balanced. In 2010, for instance, 13 of 30 MLS games were on CBC (available to virtually all Canadians), with another 10 on Sportsnet and a mere seven on GOL TV.

    Then, of course, along came TSN.

    No doubt, TSN bring sheen and production value to the table, as well as seemingly unmatched promotional capabilities within the Canadian sporting world (though the folks at Sportsnet seem intent on challenging that, given all of their recent investments). But the six-year broadcast deal between TSN and MLS only compelled them to show 24 games involving TFC and/or the Whitecaps in 2011, a number which will bump to 30 games involving Canadian teams once Montreal joins the fray next year.

    So we're to assume, then, that just 10 of Toronto FC's nearly 40 pre-scheduled games will be on TSN in 2012. What, then, of the remainder?

    It's possible that MLSE's hands are tied, and that the broadcast deal precludes MLS matchups from being shown on the likes of

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