CBC sits on MLS playoffs

STEVEN SANDOR, 24 HOURS TORONTO

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

Imagine, if you will, that the Leafs don't make the playoffs. OK, that's not a stretch. But, what if the regular season ended and there was no coverage whatsoever of the NHL playoffs? No games on TV. Not a highlight to be found. And no play in the papers.

Well, Leafs Nation, that's what it feels like to a soccer fan in Toronto.

The MLS is now into its playoffs, and, so far, not one game has made it onto any of the three networks that broadcast TFC this season -- Rogers Sportsnet, The Score and CBC. Last season, Country Canada, which is now CBC Bold, showed playoff series. Not this year.

This season, CBC only plans to show the MLS Cup final live on Nov. 23.

But don't jump on the throats of the programmers at The Score or Sportsnet. Even though both networks telecast regular-season MLS games, their hands are tied when it comes to the playoffs.

"Sportsnet does not have the rights to broadcast MLS playoff games this season," said Matthew Lamb, from the network's audience relations department. That's the same situation as The Score.

The CBC has a monopoly on MLS playoff rights until its contract with TFC and the league runs out at the end of the 2010 season. It's no different than the NHL, where Sportsnet shows Leafs games in the regular season, but can't show playoff games.

But the CBC is choosing to sit on the rights and not show games.

So, where do fans turn? The Internet. But, the MLSLivetv service on the league's website has some awfully frustrating rules for Canadian fans. The subscription allows fans to stream videos of all MLS games, save for the ones that are on national networks in the United States, such as ESPN and TeleFutura. Those are blacked out.

Notice that I wrote "United States." Canadians don't get ESPN or TeleFutura. So, our nation's fans don't have access to these broadcasts.

This is what it must feel like to be a hockey fan in the Deep South. Games only on a network you don't get, save for a few NBC weekends.

But there are more soccer fans in Toronto than there are hockey fans in Atlanta.

-- 24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card appears Wednesdays in 24 hours. 


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