Articles posted in November 2008

TSN Increases Quantity of Grey Cup Coverage

Published on November 24, 2008

The 96th Grey Cup coverage by TSN grew in quantity, but not necessarily quality.  Broadcasting the biggest game in the CFL and Canadian sports, TSN decided to avoid criticism by producing an eight hour Grey Cup Saturday broadcast along with a three hour Countdown to Kickoff Sunday pre-game show as well as the game itself.  All told TSN put in six and a half hours of coverage Sunday in addition to the eight hours on Saturday.  Quantity, though, I have found is not the best barometer for judging television coverage.

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This is Our League

Published on November 22, 2008

If you watched Grey Cup Saturday today you may have seen TSN play the CFL‘s This is Our League video introduced in June with the league’s new marketing slogan.  Here are some links for anyone searching for a copy.

This is Our League - Full Version

This is Our League - 90 second version

Notre Ligue.  Notre Football. - 90 second version

This is Our League - Bob Ackles Tribute

The song used in the video is Always by Neverending White Lights (iTunes link).  Seeing the video again made me remember how good it is.  If you have a patriotic bone in your body and live and breathe our great CFL glue that helps bind our country you will be moved.  Producing videos highlighting the league’s history, heroes and roots across the country along with the great football played is something the league got away from in the past 15 years.  CBC produced a video played during the 1987 Grey Cup pre-game show with the song Heroes of the Game by an artist I cannot remember or find at this time.  If I remember the story right, someone from the CBC was in a bar and heard this artist playing a song called Heroes of the Day and asked him to adapt it to Heroes of the Game and to use it in the CFL video.  It was later used in 1988 with the ending updated to Jerry Kauric kicking the winning field goal in the 1987 Grey Cup.  I believe there was a similar video with another song produced sometime between 1989 and 1991 but don’t remember the details.  I have it on VHS I am sure so I will try to look it up sometime.

If you remember last year, CBC used a song over the Grey Cup highlights and credits at the end of the broadcast (they might have used it Saturday too, I don’t remember).  It was My Cousin Has a Grey Cup Ring by Donovan Woods (iTunes Link).  Don’t be afraid to support these Canadian artists.

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The State of the League

Published on November 21, 2008

I’ve combined a number of Single Point links and commentary into one post on today’s State of the League Address by CFL commissioner Mark Cohon.  My comments in bold.

  • Playoff move from Sunday to Saturday
    • Attendance fared well, but television numbers did not.  “People are busy.”  Cohon will discuss a move back to Sunday’s with the CFL‘s broadcast partner TSN in the off-season.  The CFL found that people will not interrupt their schedules to watch a CFL playoff game - there is time and money invested in kids activities and a normal shopping day.
  • Corporate agreements
    • New and multi-year agreements with sponsors like Pepsi and Wiser.
  • Expansion
    • Pending stadium agreement with city, Ottawa may be on the field in 2011.  It was also announced (or everyone reminded?) outside the press conference that Ottawa has tentatively been awarded the 2014 Grey Cup.
    • League is investigating playing exhibition or regular-season games in Moncton starting in 2010.  Games would be played at Moncton’s new track and field facility in a stadium that could be expanded to 20,000 seats.  The league needs to look at all the ramifications of purchasing a game from a southern Ontario team to play in Moncton while trying to break even on 20,000 temporary stands.
    • Quebec City - stadium is issue but with a stadium and strong, local owners, they would be welcome to the league.  Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall owns the territory rights of the province of Quebec so it would require his approval.
  • Economic outlook
    • The CFL is prepared to face an economic downturn in Canada and around the world.  The CFL‘s affordability, grass-roots support, long-term agreements in place and aggressive marketing are advantages in the changing economic climate.
  • Marketing
    • “This is our league.” was successful and will be continued, expanded.
    • Retro weeks will be rolled out to all teams in 2009.
    • Aiming for a Canada Day start in 2009, with Canada Day sponsor tie ins.
    • Negotiating for a title sponsor for November — playoffs and Grey Cup.  Grey Cup will be “presented by” sponsor, not naming sponsor.
    • Nissan has been a strong sponsor, not affected by economic uncertainty like Big 3 US automakers.
  • Officiating and rules
    • CFL working on adopting a command center in Toronto for video replay reviews.  Have to work out authorities of officials.  Hope that it will speed up calls.
    • Continue to define standards to protect players, especially quarterbacks.
    • Expires in May, 2010.  Negotiations on next agreement will begin in 2009.
  • Salary Management System
    • By Cohon’s estimate it will not rise in 2009, but it will be examined in the off-season.
  • Globe and Mail article - CFL coverage is down
    • popularity translates to coverage and the CFL is more and more popular.  Media has to face economic downturn and that may mean fewer reporters traveling, but it has nothing to do with the prestige of the event.
  • Divisional alignment
    • With the possibility of Ottawa coming on board the league is not likely to adopt a single division.  Costs and scheduling (rivalries) pose issues.
  • CFL purchase game or partner with Vanier Cup in next two years?
    • League would have to look at economics but there are scheduling and other issues.
  • Drug Testing Policy
    • First draft written with CFLPA, goal is to negotiate it into the next CBA.

Cohon concluded his initial comments by saying the league is strong and stable in both official languages.  There is no panic in CFL circles over the NFL or a souring economy.


David Naylor and Stephen Brunt did their own annual question and answer thing with fans today as well.

CFL Can Do the Right Thing

Published on November 21, 2008

The CFL is on an upswing.  From an outsider’s perspective, as many as six or seven of eight franchises could break even or make a profit this year.  The league is in the first year of a lucrative five-year television contract.  Montreal is about to host another in a string of successful Grey Cups, the last two being hosted in Canada’s two largest Eastern cities.  So many believe there is money on the table.  Besides getting all franchises profitable there are many suggestions on what the CFL should do with some of its new found wealth.  Increase spending on player salaries, officiating and perhaps even a crumbling stadium infrastructure in the smaller centers across the country.  Today’s State of the League address by commissioner Mark Cohon announced progress on one other initiative — a drug testing policy — but nothing has been mentioned about another much needed program for the league.

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CFL Final Broadcasts Step Up

Published on November 17, 2008

The 2008 CFL Finals on Saturday improved slightly over the previous week.  It seems TSN looked at some of the things holding them back and made adjustments this week.  Overall, they provided a much more dedicated broadcast that highlighted the games.

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CFL Scheduling: Part 3 - Wrap-up

Published on November 16, 2008

I’ve covered two areas of scheduling a CFL season that are important for the league to help increase interest in the league throughout the season.  In this last post on this topic I will rant on some other areas I’ve not touched on and wrap up the series with a summary.

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Are Regional Traditions Still Necessary?

Published on November 12, 2008

Damien Cox of opens up the topic of whether East-West means anything in the CFL anymore.  Last year Saskatchewan and Winnipeg faced off in the Grey Cup in Toronto.  This year there is the possibility Edmonton could play Calgary in an all Alberta Grey Cup in Montreal.  Does that really hurt the CFL?  It does because the East is where fan support needs to be strongest for the league’s advertisers.  Gone are the days an all-Canadian league will be watched across all regions, so a regular Eastern presence is important to the league’s championship game.

Cox says the the CFL is one of the few remaining leagues that tries to define itself through geography.  Yet I see MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL all use regional designations in their divisions.  MLB and the NFL just happen to have separate leagues as the result of amalgamation (American and National leagues in baseball, NFC and AFC in the NFL) that means teams from each league face off for the championship, which could be from the same geographical area.  The NHL’s and NBA’s playoff systems ensures a championship series against Western and Eastern Division opponents.  The CFL is not all that unusual amongst the other major professional leagues.

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Semi-Final Broadcasts Nothing Special

Published on November 11, 2008

The 2008 CFL Semi-Finals on Saturday turned out to be nothing special both in terms of the games and the broadcasts.  The hype during the week seemed to be down a little this year, perhaps because of a playoff system and divisional alignment quirk that saw four “western” clubs playing.  TSN‘s debut as a CFL playoff broadcaster was without major news, either positive or negative.  Many, myself included, were expecting much more from TSN who are in their first year of a five year deal with exclusive broadcast rights to the CFL.

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A Brief Introduction

Published on November 4, 2008

Hi, my handle is CFLWatcher.  I am the newest (and second?) member of the CFLdb team.  I will be focusing on articles on the CFL‘s media coverage.

I have been a CFL fan since early childhood.  My strongest memories start in the 1980’s with the end of the Eskimos dynasty, the Argos ending their Grey Cup drought and the many exciting Grey Cup games played that decade.  Through the 1990’s new stars arrived, US expansion came and went and the CFL began its turnaround to the upswing it is still on today.

Since the mid-1980’s I have watched every televised CFL game that was possible, missing only a few a year due to other commitments, blackouts or other reasons (actually being at a game!).  I’ve experienced the CFL in a lot of different ways, from in the stands, to radio broadcasts, televised and lately on the Internet in both a live play-by-play format and video on-demand.  I’ve seen the CFL use both the CBC and CTV to broadcast the Grey Cup, been through the CFN years, the introduction of TSN as a broadcaster and various pay-per-view and other broadcast schemes.  Am I qualified to write about the CFL‘s media coverage?  I have no expertise in any of the pertinent areas (writing, media studies, football or sitting on the couch), so probably not, but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

I will start next week by posting a review of TSN‘s coverage of this Saturday’s 2008 CFL Division Semi-Finals.  I encourage everyone to leave their thoughts and comments on that or any of my posts.

Welcome CFLWatcher!

Published on November 4, 2008

I am pleased to welcome CFLWatcher to the CFLdb team.  CFLWatcher will be penning articles on the media aspects of the Canadian Football League, including television, Internet and print media.  CFLWatcher will start by providing reviews of this weekend’s first two CFL playoff contests to be broadcast on the cable network TSN rather than a broadcast network.

If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor to CFLdb, please contact me via email or leave a comment.

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