Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Friday, July 20, 2012
CFL on NBC Sports Network
It was announced today that the CFL has found a home on U.S. for some regular season games as well as all the play-offs including the Grey Cup.
Obviously, it is hard to get excited here in Winnipeg when the Blue Bombers are off to a poor start. However, it is good to have additional media coverage of our game in the U.S. market. Why? Well, we forget that we do have an audience down there of fans following the game for a variety of reasons. Plenty of Canadians are down in the U.S. for business and short and long term holidays. Now many will be able to enjoy the game.
The contract for 9 regular season games, East and West finals and the Grey Cup go to the newly dubbed NBC Sports Channel...formerly known as Versus...formerly known as Outdoor Life Network.
Comcast used to be the owner of OLN and it was a broadcaster of hunting and fishing shows. Later, the Tour de France gave the network huge appeal with massive coverage and a star...Lance Armstrong. For a time, the network was jokingly called the "Only Lance Network."
It proved to not be a joke when Armstrong was not racing. Ratings went down. OLN was presented with a unique opportunity to move away from cycling when the contract for NHL games came up. Comcast already owned the Philadelphia Flyers. It seemed a good way to build something beyond the sports that they already covered.
OLN became Versus the second year of the NHL contract in 2006. Due the poorer coverage of Versus over ESPN, ratings dropped. However, more money was offered as was the chance to build an audience.
Versus cast about for other sports that it could build an audience around like ultimate fighting, lacrosse and auto racing. College football was there as well. They teamed up with NBC Sports to do Olympic coverage and world events. Even Grey Cup games were broadcast on the network.
Everything changed in 2011 when Comcast bought a majority stake in NBC Universal. It was then that all disparate sports units of Comcast and NBC Sports were brought together. Hockey has played a big part and the cable network and the main network have shown hockey and watched the ratings climb. The Olympics will be a major boost too.
But the Olympics only last so long and the hockey loving owner of NBC now has to think about what to show in the late summer after Olympics and before hockey and college football. The answer is Canadian Football.
Now, this doesn't foreshadow the CFL's return to the U.S. with teams down there. But it could be another revenue stream for the league. We need to get a team back in Ottawa and possibly in Quebec City and Halifax and the way to do is a healthy bottom line and good audiences.
Toronto is still convinced that the less love it shows the CFL, the better chance they have in getting an NFL team. They are wrong.
If the NFL can say no to Los Angeles for an insufficient stadium, lack of a committed ownership group and undetermined fan base, you can can be sure they are looking at Canada'a largest city and wondering what compelling reason they would go there.
The CFL, not withstanding the Bombers icky play, has been on a bit of an upswing in ratings, with exciting games, new facilities and the like. It is a good thing to get more TV coverage.