Published on March 4, 2016 9:25 PM by dbo.
With the 2016 CFL schedule released Feb. 18th I am overdue to examine it in more detail. Inline with recent schedule release dates, the CFL drew the ire of impatient fans as per normal. In the Internet tradition of taking the most personal offence in any situation, the unbridled Internet masses unleashed on the CFL hours before the schedule’s release. While the 2016 schedule still sees one new stadium introduced, that has actually alleviated schedule issues rather than caused them for a change after multiple challenging years for the CFL schedule maker.
Responses through the rest of the league were mostly positive:
The schedule features 16 home and home games back to back for clubs in eight different series. Saskatchewan and Winnipeg lead with three, BC, Calgary, Hamilton and Ottawa with two, Edmonton and Toronto with one and Montreal with none.
Thursday Night football gets 13 games across 10 nights through the first 11 weeks of the season except Week 9 presumably because of the Summer Olympics. Wednesday games increase from zero to three, also in August during the Olympic coverage period. Thursday and Friday night games also increase, trying to exploit the success of those exemplar nights in the schedule.
* – Two games occur on Canada Day (Friday, July 1st) and four games occur on Stat Holiday Mondays (Labour Day and Thanksgiving)
Montreal again leads the way with providing a standard start time for their games with two different times. Combined with four different days for games, Montreal fans know when their team is playing. At the other end of the spectrum, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders have six different start times. The west teams show a penchant for more start times; this years table mirrors what occurred in 2015 as well.
|Unique Times||Mode (Local)||Freq Count|
|Ottawa||4||7:00 PM, 7:30 PM||3|
|Toronto||4||7:00 PM, 7:30 PM||3|
|Calgary||5||4:00 PM, 6:00 PM||3|
Over 44% of games start in the prime time range of 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM, while 70% of games start before 7:30 PM in the Eastern time zone. This is a positive metric as the west hosts more teams (and therefore more games) while the exposure in prime time in the east is critical for television coverage.
The average number of days between games remains fair and consistent for all teams. The league strives to make the schedule as fair as possible, and the days between games is the key metric for this. The schedule maker is faced with limitations while trying to limit quick turnarounds, including team imposed requests for back to back games and stadium availability.
|BC||5 days 21:00||7 days 19:35||14 days 00:00|
|Calgary||5 days 03:00||7 days 10:45||13 days 01:30|
|Edmonton||5 days 02:00||7 days 19:35||13 days 03:00|
|Hamilton||5 days 02:30||7 days 22:12||13 days 03:00|
|Montreal||3 days 23:30||7 days 20:44||15 days 18:00|
|Ottawa||5 days 00:00||7 days 18:21||15 days 21:30|
|Saskatchewan||6 days 01:00||7 days 12:31||12 days 21:30|
|Toronto||4 days 23:30||7 days 22:22||14 days 18:00|
|Winnipeg||5 days 21:00||7 days 19:40||14 days 18:00|
While this schedule did not have the stadium availability factors the previous few years have had, the CFL still faces challenges. This year they will be challenged for attention by the juggernaut that is the Summer Olympics. In the dog days of summer when the CFL is challenged by vacations taking eyes away, the Olympics can siphon more attention in the right circumstances. That can lead to people not coming back to football once the Olympics are over. If the CFL can weather that, they can move forward.