'Net gets kicks from World Cup

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

You're not truly the king until you own the biggest jewel.

Make it official now.

Rogers Sportsnet is the home of soccer on Canadian television.

English Premiership soccer has been a network staple since it launched in 1998. Important matches involving Canada's national teams have been 'Net property for several years.

Now add the granddaddy of them all -- the World Cup -- to the picture. Sportsnet learned earlier this week it had acquired Canadian TV rights for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, taking the tournament out of longtime rightsholder TSN's hands.

Quite the coup, to be sure.

"It's the most significant single event acquisition that we've ever made," said Sportsnet president Doug Beeforth.

"We've made soccer a significant part of our portfolio since we started. Now, to be able to be a part of the biggest soccer event there is (in 2006) completes the circle."

The Sportsnet bid had the endorsement of the Canadian Soccer Association, which Beeforth believes "probably had some bearing on the decision" to award the rights to his network.

While Sportsnet's four-signal world figures to play into coverage plans for 2006, the tournament will provide a challenge because of the network's Toronto Blue Jays commitments.

"We will take the approach that gets the tournament the most coverage across Canada," said Beeforth. "It could mean bringing another broadcaster on board as a partner."

While the 64 matches will be played live in mornings and afternoons in the Eastern time zone, evening repeats could be offered to TSN or CBC.

CUP STUFF: Sunday's pre-game Grey Cup coverage on CBC (4 p.m.) includes a pair of reports by former CBC Ottawa anchor Brenda Irving: The debate over whether the CFL should adopt instant replay to aid officials, and the search for the next great Canadian quarterback. The latter piece includes interviews with Rough Riders legend Russ Jackson and Nepean native Jesse Palmer of the NFL's New York Giants ... Sportsnet's Jamie Campbell and Marty York have been broadcasting from the roof of the Ottawa South library branch on Bank Street ... TSN's CFL Countdown game preview airs tomorrow at 8 p.m. ... The Score's To the Point, with Greg Sansone, is live from the Grey Cup tonight (6 p.m.) ... Rogers Television has a special Grey Cup edition of the Big Bad Sports Show tonight at 8.

AROUND THE DIAL: Sportsnet pulled in an audience of 113,000 for last Saturday's Rimouski-Gatineau game, featuring Oceanic phenom Sidney Crosby ... Also part of the World Cup soccer package obtained by Sportsnet is a series of 10 FIFA events through 2006 ... ESPN is putting a mike on Texans quarterback David Carr during their Sunday night game against the Packers --a first for an NFL telecast.

WEEKEND PICKS:

TV:

1) Grey Cup, Sunday, 6 p.m., CBC, RDS

2) Auburn at Alabama, Tomorrow, 3:30 p.m., CBS

Radio:

1) Grey Cup, Sunday, 6 p.m., Team 1200

2) 67's at Attack, Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m., Team 1200; 67's at Storm, Sunday, 6:30 p.m., CFRA 580


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