Mid-Week Notes: November 2

I didn’t have time to write a Monday Morning Commentator for a few reasons this week for a few reasons (lack of topics, lack of time being the main two). However, there are a few newsworthy topics in Canadian sports media this week; here is a quick rundown.

  • Figure skating returned to CTV – which was once known as Canada’s Figure Skating Network when it broadcast most of the world’s major competitions about 10 years ago – this past weekend. I’m not a big figure skating fan, but I thought CTV and TSN gave Skate Canada excellent coverage. It was great to see Brian Williams host the coverage; he is very underused by CTV and TSN on-air. TSN also introduced their new graphics package, which is not 4:3 safe. So, it looks like TSN will broadcast most events in 16:9 soon, much like ESPN and Fox in the US.
  • Coverage of the baseball playoffs wrapped up last week with the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series. I kind of get the sense it may have been Tim McCarver’s last World Series, but maybe I’m just being optimistic. I thought Joe Buck was excellent, as usual. Buck takes a lot of criticism for his work, but I believe he is one of the best baseball play-by-play commentators. I flipped back and forth between Sportsnet and Fox for most of the series, but there came a time when Gary Thorne’s voice became a bit grating later in the night, compared to the soft tone of Joe Buck. Not to mention that Rick Sutcliffe isn’t a lot better than McCarver. Overall, I say it’s a wash between Fox and MLB International’s coverage. Neither is great and I’d prefer ESPN or TBS.
  • Game 7 of the World Series was the most watched World Series game ever on Sportsnet, with an average of 1.1 million viewers. For a Friday night, that is very impressive, especially considering viewers who watched on Fox weren’t counted. The game was easily viewed by over one and half million viewers in Canada, maybe even two million. The previous record was 913, 000 for game 4 of Boston vs. St. Louis in 2004. Baseball is still easily behind hockey, and Canadian and American football in popularity in Canada. However, when compared to its competitor for the 4th most popular sport, curling, it comes out pretty even. The 2011 Brier final drew 1.3 million last March.
  • SportsCentre anchor Holly Horton has announced she is leaving TSN. Her last SportsCentre broadcast was this past weekend. Horton is taking a step back, to spend more time with her young child. She will continue to work with TSN on a freelance basis, he next assignments are on December 3rd and 4th. Horton was originally scheduled to call freestyle skiing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver before her maternity leave coincided with the Games. I expect that Kate Beirness will see an increased role at TSN, even after Jennifer Hedger returns in January.
  • Matthew Black had an interesting opportunity to interview former TSN commentator Paul Romanuk recently. I strongly suggest you read his article in the Vancouver Sun.
  • It looks like Canadian soccer fans will be well-served for next weekend’s international break. TSN and TSN2 will show two playoff qualifiers for EURO 2012. TSN will show both legs of Croatia (ranked #12 by FIFA) vs. Turkey (ranked #26 by FIFA). Leg 1 will air on Friday November 11 at 2pm ET from Istanbul; leg 2 will air on Tuesday November 15 at 2pm ET from Zagreb. TSN2 will broadcast both legs of Portugal (ranked #8 by FIFA) vs. Bosnia (ranked #21 by FIFA). Leg 1 will air on Friday November 11 at 2pm ET from Zenica; leg 2 will air on Tuesday November 15 at 4pm ET from Lisbon. Sportsnet Ontario and Pacific will broadcast a friendly between England (ranked #7 by FIFA) and Spain (ranked #1 by FIFA) on Saturday November 12 at 12pm ET from Wembley Stadium.
  • More soccer news. Derek Rae, who once was the voice of the UEFA Champions League in North America on ESPN in the US and TSN in Canada will make a return to the North American airwaves this weekend when he commentates on Newcastle vs. Everton for ESPN2. Ian Darke is in the US to work a MLS playoff battle betweeen New York and Los Angeles on Thursday night. TSN2 will show both games in Canada. I grew up with Rae as the voice of soccer for me, and I still believe he is one of the best
  • With the NBA lockout cancelling every game through the end of November, TSN2 has added a few more NHL games to its schedule. The first is tonight when the Flyers travel to Buffalo. Others include Islanders @ Bruins (November 7) and Devils @ Sabres (November 16). TSN2 will also attempt to fill the basketball void by showing college hoops earlier than usual. Their first game is Michigan State vs. North Carolina on November 11 (for anyone who likes novelty games, it will take place in an aircraft carrier.
  • Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are two of the best NFL analysts. Both were also great coaches only a few years ago. Rumours have swirled about one or both leaving the TV business to return to coaching. Gruden recently signed a new contract, while Cowher committed to CBS for next season on the NFL Today on Sunday. It seems that two of the NFL’s best minds are happy to stay in the comfy confines of the broadcast booth (or the CBS studio in Cowher’s case) instead of a return to the mentally demanding job of coaching.
  • The next two Saturday nights feature two of the most important college football clashes of the season. This Saturday #1 LSU visits #2 Alabama at 8pm ET on CBS. Next Saturday #6 Oregon visits #4 Stanford on ABC at 8pm ET. I strongly recommend watching these two games, even if you would usually watch Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights. They both have the potential to be classics.

7 thoughts on “Mid-Week Notes: November 2

  1. his article in the Vancouver Sun.
    This link didn’t work.

  2. Any news on the ratings for Game 6 of the World Series? One of the best games I’ve ever seen.

    • 875, 000. And it went head-to-head with the Leafs on TSN, so not bad.

      • Not bad also considering that doesn’t count the people like me who watched it on FOX

        • I watched the entire World Series on Sportsnet for a couple of reasons:
          1) Gary Thorne. He is probably my 3rd favourite baseball play-by-play man behind Vin Scully and Dan Shulman. I just love his excitement, something that Joe Buck does not have.
          2) To support my favourite team, the Blue Jays. Watching on Sportsnet = Better ratings for Sportsnet = More advertising revenue = More money for Rogers = More money to spend on the Blue Jays = Better Blue Jays team

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