New channel coming for Sportsnet

A new player is about to enter the already saturated sports market in Canada, as Rogers Sportsnet gets set to launch its new digital channel on Aug. 14, the network confirmed on Thursday.

Rogers Sportsnet ONE is putting the emphasis on live-event programming, of which it will broadcast over 800 hours of action from the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays, the NBA, MLB and Barclay’s Premiere League soccer. The category 2 digital channel received approval from the CRTC in March and also has the ability to broadcast regional content.

Sportsnet president Doug Beeforth says he’s not concerned about offering something different from the competition including TSN and TSN2, but rather to offer viewers more live content.

‘The live event programming – both in quality and quantity – will make this new channel stand out from the competition. [It] is the genre most valued by sports fans,’ he tells Playback Daily.

The new addition brings the channel count up to five for the Rogers Media-owned sports network, which is now comprised of Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Pacific.

The broadcaster also announced Thursday that it has signed a three-year agreement with the Vancouver Canucks to broadcast 13 regular season games a year on Sportsnet ONE, beginning with the 2010-11 season. The partnership is in addition to Sportsnet Pacific’s 45-game Canucks broadcast schedule, which reaches viewers in B.C. and the Yukon Territories. Sportsnet ONE will also broadcast 15 regular season Ottawa Senators games following a four-year deal with the organization.

Also, Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE inked a deal with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment for 35 Raptors games each of the next three seasons. The latter will broadcast at least 23 games for the 2010-11 season, while the remainder will air on Sportsnet. The channels will also air 35 other regular season NBA games in addition to 22 playoff games each year. (Sportsnet did not have Raptors or NBA games last season).

Sportsnet ONE launches Aug. 14 with three live events including a BPL soccer match between defending champion Chelsea and West Brom, followed by MLB action with San Diego versus San Francisco, and then the Blue Jays taking on the Los Angeles Angeles.

In all, the new channel will broadcast 25 Blue Jays games this season, which, coupled with the teams games on Rogers Sportsnet, will result in the first time ever that all Jays games are televised, according to Beeforth. The network is currently negotiating with carriers to pick up the new channel.