GolTV could score very big

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

Every fledgling sports network seems to have its watershed moment.

That big event that pushes it toward the forefront of viewer consciousness.

For GolTV, that breakthrough might just be around the corner. The 24-hour digital soccer channel has been sublicensed by the CBC to air 10 live matches in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which kicks off tomorrow in Ottawa and Montreal.

GolTV viewers can catch North Korea-Panama tomorrow at 4:15 p.m. ET, and Nigeria-Costa Rica at 7:45 p.m. on Canada Day. Both Ottawa matches on Tuesday (Czech Republic-North Korea, Argentina-Panama) air live on the network as well, starting at 4:45 p.m. ET.

While soccer fanatics know all about the channel, which launched in Canada in the fall of 2005, the U-20 World Cup figures to open the door to a wider scope of viewership.

"It's one of the most significant things we've ever had on our network. It's huge for us," said Chris Doyle, VP of marketing for Insight Sports, which owns the channel. This is really going to put us on the map." Already, it's been quite the run for GolTV. The network had live coverage of all matches at the just-completed Gold Cup. And it's just started showing the Copa America, the South American equivalent of the European soccer championship.

"Around the office, we've been calling it the perfect storm of soccer," Doyle said.

It's taken some time, but GolTV now has carriage on every major cable or satellite provider in Canada. Most offer the network as part of a digital sports specialty package. Rogers Cable customers can preview the network free next Tuesday and Wednesday on Channel 1.

SOCCER YOUR WAY: While CBC (21 games), CBC Country Canada (21) and GolTV are offering live coverage of every match at the U-20 World Cup, you're not shut out if you're away from a television. All matches are being streamed free (42 live) and on-demand at cbcsports.ca/fifau20. FIFA.com is also offering free live streaming on its website.

CANADA'S DAY: You knew this had to happen at some point. With the July 1 start of NHL free agency now a hot topic for hockey fans, TSN is producing a three-hour special Sunday (11 a.m. ET start) that mirrors its coverage of the league's in-season trade deadline. NHL on TSN: Free Agent Frenzy is also available on TSN Broadband and the NHL Network.

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AROUND THE DIAL: TSN's Brian Williams sits down with new CFL commissioner Mark Cohon during tonight's Friday Night Football pre-game show at 7 ET ... XM Radio becomes the NHL's exclusive satellite radio carrier as of Sunday.


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