Canada just concluded a “fairytale” run to the Little League World Series quarterfinals, where they were finally eliminated by a game Puerto Rico side, 9-4. In the process, Canada gained attention and fans across the country.
That may have actually worked against the country’s own LLWS rights holder on Wednesday, when it failed to air Canada’s elimination game against Puerto Rico.
While Canada facing Puerto Rico took a back seat to the American bracket game between the Great Lakes and Southeast regions on ESPN, the broadcasts apparently lined up similarly on TSN. Instead of airing the game on live TV, the Canadian broadcaster aired it on a “digital only” broadcast, with a single camera capturing all the action.
Meanwhile, a re-air of the team’s victory against Mexico two nights earlier was broadcast live, as well as the MLB Network simulcast of “Intentional Talk” … on three different channels.
As you can imagine, those fans who had built a strong affinity for the Canadian team from Whalley Little League in British Columbia were understandably upset that the only way they could catch the team’s most important game was by paying a $25 surcharge to get access to a single camera digital feed.
There were many, many more just like this. The outrage was real, and it was substantial.
And why shouldn’t it be? Unlike the American squads, where support is regionally focused, Canada gets just one representative in Williamsport. That means the entire country lines up behind the one team that represents it in unity. It’s impressive, and it leads to breathless coverage from national media outlets like CBC and CTV.
For the most anticipated match up in recent Canadian history to face such limited exposure is a serious misstep on the part of Canada’s leading all sports network.
The good news is that Canada’s fans rapidly turned the page to congratulate the kids from Whalley on a remarkable run in Williamsport. That’s a fine sentiment, though it doesn’t mean these fans will be forgetting the coverage — or lack thereof — that TSN served up for them when they wanted it most.