Super Rugby on Canadian TV in 2021 is an up-in-the-air question.
The short answer to the above question is “I don’t know.”
The longer answer is “maybe somewhere soon.”
I asked Bell Media, owners of TSN, and SANZAAR, organizers of Super Rugby, about the situation.
A TSN spokesperson acknowledged that they while did have Super Rugby’s Canadian broadcast rights for the last five years, they don’t currently have them for 2021.
“But if that changes, I’ll be sure to let you know,” Rob Duffy, manager of communications for CTV News, TSN, and Bell Media Sports, told me in an email.
Greg Thomas, SANZAAR’s media and communications manager, said in an email Thursday that they are still “still negotiating and looking for solutions” to secure broadcast rights in North American.
“Hopefully we will have some news in the near future,” he said.
“Apologies but the ongoing effects of COVID-19 have had a drastic impact on the sporting landscape, not just on tournament formats and match operations but in the commercial landscape as well. Sporting federations’ ability to negotiate new commercial deals in areas such as sponsorship and television broadcasting has been severely compromised in the market due to reduced budgets, a decrease in business confidence, less available product and the ongoing uncertainty created by the pandemic,” he added.
From 2016 to 2020, Super Rugby, the southern hemisphere’s high-flying league, was available on TSN, mostly on their website and streaming apps. And with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting sports for much of last year, TSN eventually started showing games on their regular channels, too.
ESPN, which still owns a small stake in TSN, held the Americas-wide rights to Super Rugby during those five years. ESPN is big in Argentina and during that period an Argentine expansion team, Los Jaguares, joined Super Rugby.
Canada isn’t alone in having an unclear start to the season. On Wednesday, Rugbypass, the online streaming hub, confirmed they had just secured broadcast rights to Super Rugby Aotearoa, the New Zealand section of the 2021 competition, for the U.K. and Europe, plus a number of other territories.
But as of yet no one in the U.K., a pretty vibrant market for rugby, has picked up Super Rugby AU, the Australian section of the competition.
Maybe TSN will end up getting rights through their ESPN relationship. Maybe someone like DAZN, which shows the Pro14, or Sportsnet, which shows the English premiership as well as rugby league, will swoop in.
Whatever the answer will be, it seems you just have to wait.