Right then, so trying out some new things this week. Gonna see how this works and maybe keep it going. Some weeks will have a more defined topic if there is breaking news. I’ve also introduced a feature 5toWatch where I’ll give my best bets for what sports events to watch in the coming week.
- Sports Media Canada announced the winners of the George Gross awards for excellence in broadcasting last week. The 2012 winners are Rod Smith (television), Bruce Arthur (print) and Ed Kaiser (photography). All won the award for their work on the London 2012 Olympics. Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones will receive the career achievement award.
- I know I haven’t posted ratings very regularly lately. I hope to have more in the near future with NFL season in full swing and the MLB and CFL playoffs. For now, here are some of the highlights of the last month. 888, 000 watched the Roughriders beat the Bombers 52-0 on Labour Day weekend. 750, 000 watched the more tightly matched Banjo Bowl re-match a week later. Earlier this month the league reported ratings are up 4% over last year. Still down over two seasons ago.
- An interesting observation on TSN’s CFL coverage the past few weeks. The third broadcast crew has covered a couple of games. Gord Miller (or Rod Smith) and Matt Dunigan give CFL broadcasts a different feel. I’ve often pointed out how TSN’s coverage gets repetitive, with the same 5 studio panelists and 2 broadcast crews covering most of the league’s 72 games. Smith, a former guard in university for Queen’s, offers a unique opinion as a former player at a high level and a trained broadcaster. Miller will do seven games this fall. TSN should try to work the three into their coverage more often.
- With the NHL lockout causing cancelled preseason games, TSN and CBC are jumping into replacement programming this week. CBC has the Don Cherry Story II on Saturday instead of preseason HNIC. Why have 10 minutes of Grapes when you can have four hours? TSN is jumping into the archives to capitalize on the 40th anniversary of the ’72 Summit Series. The eighth and final game from Moscow will air tonight at 7:30pm ET. As with the earlier ’87 Canada Cup broadcasts, TSN has added a new studio show and scorebug.
- CBC has no immediate plans for regular season replacement programming, continuing to hope for a miracle. However, I’d imagine movies are likely to return to Saturday nights. It looks like TSN may have classic games, again. Sportsnet is in the best position to replace their regional coverage as they have exclusive CHL rights. I expect they will expand coverage to more than the usual Friday broadcast. May’s Memorial Cup was the highest rated since 2005, the last time the NHL didn’t play. The similarity between 2005 and this season is a young superstar out of Cole Harbour is the favourite to go first in the NHL draft again. I expect Sportsnet will ride the wave of momentum from the end of the baseball playoffs until the pros get back on the ice.
- The regional Sunday NFL schedule for this weekend features Patriots @ Bills (Atlantic, Montreal, Toronto, Kitchener), 49ers @ Jets (Ottawa, Northern Ontario, Saskatchewan), Vikings @ Lions (Winnipeg) and Seahawks @ Rams (Alberta, BC) at 1:00pm ET on CTV. Panthers @ Falcons is on RDS2). Later on it’s Raiders @ Broncos (4:05pm, SN Ontario/West/Pacific) and Saints @ Packers (4:25pm, Citytv, SN East, RDS2).
- The best college football game this weekend (in my opinion, at least) between West Virginia and Baylor won’t air on Canadian TV. It is on FX in America. Sportsnet and theScore share those broadcasts in Canada. All 3 have programming conflicts on Saturday afternoon. Penn State @ Illinois (12:00pm, TSN2) and Arizona State @ California (4:00pm, SN1) will air on Canadian TV this Saturday.
- TSN missed Louis Hamilton’s crash during Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix because there were at commercial break. To their credit, they did break back to the BBC coverage (which has no ads) seconds after the crash.
- Meanwhile, Formula 1 tried a new setup for post-race interviews. Former drive Eddie Jordan (of the BBC) interviewed the three podium finishers on the podium, instead of the usual press conference-style interviews. It was a nice change, but someone needs to get Jordan a real shirt.
- For any soccer fans who are too young to remember the birth of the Premier League (or those who simply didn’t/couldn’t follow the sport then), I have found an incredibly interesting documentary. “A Whole New Ball Game” (which was the term Sky coined for their coverage of the first season of the league in 1992) traces the roots of the league. Chairmen of the “big 5” (at the time) are interviewed, as are representatives from the FA, and the Premier League’s most successful managers (Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger). The documentary delves into the motives for the five chairmen to create the league. It looks at the Hillsborough disaster and crumbling stadia, and, interestingly, how the chairmen looked to the National Football League for lessons on how to improve the experience for fans. But perhaps of most interest to readers here, it examines how television money was the real driving force in the creation of the new league. As well as how television coverage domestically (on Sky) and internationally have made it the most popular domestic sports league wordwide. “A Whole New Ball Game” is available on Netflix Canada.
- One last note for this week goes to one of the true greats of broadcasting, Martin Tyler. Few can put momentous moments in sports into words like he can. When Cristiano Ronaldo scored the go-ahead goal for Real Madrid in the 90th minute last Tuesday, Tyler simply stated, “and it’s all gone horribly wrong for City.” He left the analysis to his co-commentator (Tony Gale) and didn’t try too hard for a memorable call. Commentators (on both sides of the Atlantic) should take note.
- AFL: If you’re game for staying up late (or have a PVR), the AFL Grand Final is on late Friday night (11:30pm, TSN2). In terms of pre-game festivities, it only ranks behind the Super Bowl. This year 10-time champs Hawthorn Hawks take on 5-time champs Sydney Swans from the 100, 000 seat Melbourne Cricket Ground. Oh, and by the way, Canadian Mike Pyke is likely to feature in the starting lineup for Sydney.
- EPL Super Saturday: Four of the “big 6′ face each other in Premiership action on Saturday. First Chelsea play host to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge (7:30am, TSN2). Chlesea top the table so far this season with 13 points. Then Manchester United face Spurs at Old Trafford (12:00pm, SN1). With a win and a favourable result in the first game, United could top the table at the end of the day.
- Golf: The bi-annual Ryder Cup takes place at Medinah Country Club in Illinois this weekend. The American team is highlighted by Tiger Woods, PGA Tour champion Brandt Snedeker and Masters champ Bubba Watson. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald lead the European squad. The final day singles matches are on Sunday (1pm, TSN).
- NFL: Two NFL games stand out for me on Sunday. 49ers @ Jets is the prime afternoon game (1:00pm, FOX) as FOX gets a rare chance to show
the Jets defenseTebow. In the Sunday nighter the Eagles and Giants battle for first place in the NFC East (8:30pm, TSN). Any bets on how many INTs Vick throws?
- MLB: The Rangers and Athletics begin a three-game series that could decide the AL West winner on Monday in Oakland (10:00pm, SN West/Pacific).