2016 Schedule: Forward

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.

Schedule Summary

  • The pre-season schedule begins Wednesday, June 8th and ends Saturday, June 18th played over two weeks and consists of a triple-header Friday in Week A and Saturday in Week B. Winnipeg and Ottawa get the short straws, drawing pre-season games 5 days and 4 days apart respectively.
  • Winnipeg plays both pre-season games against East Division opponents, leaving them without a pre-season divisional tuneup. The remainder of the contests are divisional matchups.
  • The regular season begins on Thursday, June 23 with Hamilton at Toronto christening BMO Field for Canadian football.
  • Each team receives two bye weeks as has been the practice in a nine-team league. Week 11 (Labour Day) is the exception, with all teams playing (Toronto twice) and Toronto receiving an extra bye week (Week 10) for this.
  • The schedule features 2 night games on Canada Day, which falls on a Friday, 2 traditional Labour Day Monday games and 2 Thanksgiving Monday games. Labour Day weekend (Week 11), featuring Toronto hosting BC on Wednesday, August 31st before visiting Hamilton on Monday, September 5th. Ottawa also plays at Montreal on Thursday, September 1st.
  • Besides these dates, nothing is specified for Hall of Fame Game, CFL Pink weeks (though they will occur in October) or other events (that I have seen at time of writing).
  • There are 23 double-headers (3 Thursday, 8 Friday, 10 Saturday, 2 holiday Monday) and 1 triple-header on the last Saturday of the season. The number of double-headers is up seven from last year, while this is the first triple-header in the regular season since 2007.
  • The television schedule is not released as of yet, and while TSN will carry all regular season games, whether any pre-season games will be carried on TSN or TSN2 is uncertain. Expect the pre-season television schedule to be confirmed in May.

Reviews

Nationally, it was a race to get notice of the schedule release, well, released. TSN created some original content, while the rest just reprinted the CP story (even in Halifax).

Responses through the rest of the league were mostly positive:

Schedule Analysis

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.

Table 1: CFL 2016 Regular Season Home Games by Team and Day of the Week
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Stat*
BC 1 3 5
Calgary 1 2 3 1 2
Edmonton 2 3 4
Hamilton 1 3 3 2
Montreal 3 3 2 1
Ottawa 1 6 1 1
Saskatchewan 1 1 5 2
Toronto 1 2 1 1 2 1 1
Winnipeg 1 2 2 4
Total 1 3 13 24 27 7 6
2015 +/- -1 +3 +2 +1 -1 -6 +2

* – 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.

Table 2: CFL 2016 Regular Season Game Unique Start Times by Team
Unique Times Mode (Local) Freq Count
Montreal 2 7:30 PM 5
BC 3 7:00 PM 6
Edmonton 4 7:00 PM 4
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
Hamilton 5 7:30 PM 3
Saskatchewan 6 4:00 PM 3
Winnipeg 6 7:30 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.

Table 2: CFL 2016 Regular Season Unique Start Times (ET)
Time Freq Count
7:00 PM 27
10:00 PM 15
4:00 PM 10
7:30 PM 9
8:30 PM 9
1:00 PM 4
9:00 PM 3
3:00 PM 2
4:30 PM 2
2:00 PM 1
5:00 PM 1
4:30 PM 1
9:30 PM 1


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.

Table 3: CFL 2015 Regular Season Days Between Games by Team
Min Avg Max
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


Conclusion

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.

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2016 Schedule: Forward was published on March 4, 2016 9:25 PM by dbo.

1,423 words.

This article is categorized under Game and tagged with schedules.