CBC rides soccer wave

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

The way Scott Moore sees it, CBC Sports couldn't have hit the soccer wave better.

Sunday's FIFA U-20 World Cup final in Toronto (3:15 p.m. ET) will put the finish on a three-week production that, as Moore sees it, has given CBC a spectacular start into its four-year contract with the soccer's global governing body.

"Our timing couldn't be more serendipitous," CBC Sports' executive director said. "We've got the next two World Cups, and there's a chance Canada could land the 2011 Women's World Cup.

Even though Canada made a quick exit from the tournament, ratings for prime-time matches on CBC have been solid. Saturday night's Spain-Czech Republic quarter-final outdrew competing CFL and Blue Jays telecasts. Even an early round Congo-Austria match attracted 280,000.

"It truly is amazing," said Moore of interest in the U-20 World Cup.

"It tells you how big a deal soccer is now ... Very quickly, it's become (CBC's) second most important sport."

CBC put a lot into the tournament, using its own commentators on a number of games. Thanks to CBC Country Canada and GolTV, every match aired live.

"I'd give our coverage a nine out of 10, and normally I don't go that high," said Moore. CBC's next big soccer show: The Women's World Cup in China in September. The public broadcaster will air all of Canada's group matches live, along with the quarter-finals, semifinals and final.

BECKHAM MANIA

Anticipation is already building for David Beckham's debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, set for Aug. 5 at Toronto FC. Expect the prime-time affair to get the royal treatment from CBC. "We're going to pull out all the stops" said Terry Ludwick, CBC Sports' director of programming. "We're thinking it should be our highest (Toronto FC audience) of the year."

THEY'RE BAAACK!

Bob Cole and Harry Neale have inked one-year contracts to return to Hockey Night in Canada next season. Moore said the deployment of HNIC's personnel will be revealed in September, but acknowledged the 74-year-old Cole is in for "a slightly reduced workload." He added keeping Cole and Neale in the fold "doesn't mean we're not going to continue looking at who the next stars of Hockey Night in Canada will be." Read into that what you will.

AROUND THE DIAL

TSN has three hours of Canadian Open golf coverage (3-6 p.m. ET) next Thursday and Friday. CBS and Global carry the weekend rounds.


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