Toronto FC, already a hit at the box office, yesterday won a deal with CBC that completes a broadcast package that will see all of the team's remaining Major League Soccer matches on television this season.
The agreement with Canada's national broadcaster consists of 14 regular-season TFC games, including the expansion club's home opener on April 28 at BMO Field.
The deal also gives CBC exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to this season's MLS playoffs, the league's all-star game and the MLS Cup final.
The contract with the Toronto franchise marks the third big soccer package CBC has landed in the past year.
It earlier out-bid rivals for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and will be the host broadcaster for the FIFA under-20 World Cup from June 30 to July 22 this year at venues across Canada, including Toronto.
Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer at TFC's parent Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., liked the idea that with CBC the team would get coast-to-coast exposure over the airwaves.
"Our expansion deal with MLS gave us national broadcast rights in Canada," Anselmi said. "So when CBC stepped up it competes our package, where all 30 games will be on television in Canada."
Anselmi said that the televsion package combined with the team's sell out of season tickets is not all that surprsing.
"We thought it might take longer to achieve the kinds of successes we have," he said. "Our timing was good. There was still lots of soccer fever left from the 2006 World Cup and then Canada gets awarded the under-20 World Cup -- all in the past two years -- so the timing was good for us."
CBC sports boss Scott Moore said he hopes that providing TFC matches across the network would help grow the game in Canada.
"We were clear when we announced our agreement with FIFA last fall that CBC is committed to helping to grow the game in Canada," Moore said.
"Coverage of the first Canadian team in Major League Soccer history is an important part of that."
CBC also gets an option to broadcasts additional TFC games in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The games that are not on CBC will be broadcast by either Rogers Sportsnet or The Score.
While CBC has yet to announce its broadcast team, Sportsnet's coverage will be led by television sports veteran Gerry Dobson and former Canadian national team player Craig Forest.
"Sportsnet's coverage of Toronto FC is consistent with our 'Home Team First' philosophy," said Rogers Sportsnet president Doug Beeforth.
"Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest, two of the most accomplished soccer announcers in Canada, are sure to make every FC game on Sportsnet even more entertaining for the viewers."