Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) is adding another player to its broadcast roster.
The Toronto company, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC, has acquired an 80.1% interest in the 24-hour soccer channel GolTV Canada from Insight Sports. A purchase price was not disclosed.
GolTV US retains a 19.9% interest in the channel, which has nearly 600,000 subscribers in Canada.
Chris Hebb, MLSE’s senior vice-president, broadcast and content, said GolTV is a natural fit with Toronto FC. “The idea of us owning a soccer channel is something we’ve been strategically interested in for some time, and there really is only one that’s 100% dedicated to soccer,” said Hebb. “When you have that kind of desire, and somebody willing to sell, it can come together.”
GolTV currently carries more than 150 live games a year from various professional soccer leagues throughout Europe and South America, and has exclusive rights to the Italian, Spanish and South American qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup. Hebb said MLSE hopes to add more Major League Soccer and CONCACAF matches.
“There’s going to be a lot of soccer on this channel,” he said.
MLSE also owns the specialty channels Leafs TV and Raptors NBA TV, both of which carry select Leafs and Raptors games. MLSE executive vice-president and chief operating officer Tom Anselmi said in a release that the channel will create “greater programming opportunities” for both Toronto FC and Major League Soccer.
CBC Television will carry up to 15 of Toronto FC’s 30 games this year, said Hebb, while the remaining games are “open to the market.”
“We’d love for it to grow and we’re going to do everything we can to promote it and get people to understand what a great channel it is,” said Hebb.
Toronto-based Insight Sports also owns WFN: World Fishing Network and GameTV. The deal is subject to CRTC approval.