Mediapro Canada Production of Canadian Premier League Embraces New Workflows, Tech
When Mediapro Canada signed a 10-year deal with Canadian Soccer Business, a partnership enterprise that represents all commercial inventory of Canada Soccer, and the Canadian Premier League, in February 2019 a global pandemic was clearly not part of the launch strategy. But the challenges of the pandemic have led to a lot of learning, including how to approach production differently, how to grow the sport in a nation where hockey dominates, and how to be poised for a future where soccer is expected to grow in popularity.
“As you can imagine Canada is not a soccer country, so we came here with one clear idea to develop the sport,” says Oscar López, Mediapro Canada, CEO. “And after the first year of the Canadian Premier League COVID came and stopped everything. So, we had to think how we would resume, and our roadmap and we learned a lot of things in the meantime.”
One of those things was learning how to reinforce the technical facilities with equipment that was brought over from Spain for the 2021 season which began in June. Those efforts built on lessons learned in 2020 when the league held a 35-game tournament on Prince Edward Island and embraced new remote production workflows.
“This year we put those remote productions into practice [across the country] as we are in the last phase of the championships and we will have the playoffs and final at the end of the month,” says López.
The remote production hub is located in Mississauga, about 20 miles outside of Toronto and the production team there has produced matches from Victoria, Winnipeg, and Halifax.
“The matches at the rest of the venues are produced in a traditional way,” he adds.
López says the use of remi productions will expand in the future, especially as Mediapro Canada continues to leverage postproduction facilities that Mediapro in Barcelona, Spain, manages. Mediapro is the host production services provider for La Liga matches.
“The time difference means they are sleeping, and we can use their network cloud facility and save a lot of money as a group,” he says. “And if we use it in a smart way, it is really good for us.”
Mediapro Canada is also working with Automatic TV, a Mediapro company that specialized in automated camera and production systems, to develop new workflows, including having unmanned cameras that can track the action and then push the signals into a private cloud for production needs. Mediapro Canada is also poised to use a next-generation cable cam from Mediapro company Omnicam4Sky that is light enough to be used indoors and is currently using Mediapro-developed cloud technology for playout of OneSoccer.
Mediapro’s efforts at OneSoccer are also putting gender equity at the top of the “major goals” list, both in the productions and in the booths.
“We have a lot of women working with us and we are trying to encourage the Canadian soccer business and the entities in the country to have a women’s pro league,” says López. “We are also going to create a weekly program that talks about the world of soccer from the women’s perspective. And in terms of production, we are not far from gender equity but still we have a gap that we want to fix.”
One step taken is the main host is Andi Petrillo, best known for her CBC Olympic coverage and also being the first-ever woman in Canada to have her own daily sports talk radio show. The success of the women’s national team, currently ranked sixth in the world, is also helping drive the popularity of the sport in Canada.
“And the men’s team is improving really fast, and they have a really good chance to qualify for the World Cup,” adds López. “Our project is building local heroes as that is everything in a sport. And if the national team qualifies it will change things forever.”
Also changing things is the evolving ethnic diversity of Canada as more than 400,000 immigrants are added to the population each year. Catherine Davies, Mediapro’s international media rights and communications manager, says it is a pretty good bet the vast majority come from countries where soccer is the number one or number two sport.
“I think soccer is a bit of a sleeper as it also has far higher participation rates among children than American football or hockey in Canada,” she says. “I think we’re on the cusp of something really exciting and we got in at a good time as we head towards the 2026 World Cup.”
Mediapro Canada believes the combination of a changing population, an improving national team, coupled with a wealth of content featuring Canadian teams portend great things in the future.
“We are the sports channel with more Canadian sports content than anyone else as more than 80% of our content is purely Canadian,” says Oscar López, Mediapro Canada, CEO. “And our channel will show more than 180 live soccer games by the end of the year which is far more than have ever been shown in the Canadian market [in a single year].”