University sports fans in western Canada will be able to watch their favourite teams from the comfort of their own homes next season, thanks to Headline Sports.
On March 24, the network, which currently televises sports highlights 24-hours-a-day, received amendments to its license from the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission that permit it to broadcast live events.
"The amendments will allow [Headline Sports] to broadcast a limited amount of live sports event coverage up to a maximum of 15 per cent of its quarterly programming schedule," reads the license summary.
One of the conditions for the amendment was that Headline Sports will have to increase its coverage of Canadian events; 50 per cent of prime time coverage must be dedicated to Canadian events. Among the Canadian events the network would like to cover are Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union sports.
"We’d like to try to do more university coverage," said Headline Sports spokesman Anthony Ciccone. "We’ve put together a package to give [the CIAU] more exposure."
The network’s university sports focus will center around the Canada West conference, in more commerically viable sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, and hockey.
"It’s not limited to Canada West, but there’s a huge appetite for sports in Canada west," noted Ciccone.
Currently, neither complete games nor highlights can be found on any of Canada’s sports networks (Headline Sports, TSN and CTV SportsNet) during the regular season, and TSN carries only a select few championship games. According to Ciccone, Headline Sports’ new deal will not change TSN’s coverage.
"It doesn’t affect them all that much," he said. "[Televising regular season games] is something they had the opportunity to do, but never did do."
University of Calgary Sports Information Director Jack Neumann is excited about seeing more CIAU events on television.
"More television exposure for university athletics and especially Canada West is great," he said.
Neumann listed a number of events that would benefit from national or regional exposure.
"This is fantastic," he continued. "It’s great for athletes. Especially television… it gets into everyone’s living room."