101st Grey Cup Broadcast Facts and Figures

5.4 million – Average number of viewers who watched the 100th GREY CUP on TSN last year – the most-watched CFL championship ever recorded on Canadian English-language television

33,528 – Metres of cable (camera, audio, and video) needed for TSN’s broadcast of the 101st GREY CUP (equal to 333 CFL football fields)

2,656 – Number of kilometres traveled by the CFL ON TSN panel desk on its journey from TSN’s Toronto studio to Mosaic Stadium in Regina

FACT: TSN’s producer and director team of Jon Hynes and Paul Hemming have worked together to broadcast thousands of marquee sporting events. In addition to numerous Grey Cups, they both worked on the men’s hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games

1,500 – Estimated number of split-second decisions that will be made by TSN’s production team during the 101st GREY CUP broadcast

1,117 – Total combined height in centimetres of the CFL on TSN panel

250 – Estimated number of watermelon helmets TSN will show on air during its two-day Grey Cup coverage

FACT: TSN’s Brian Williams has interviewed a total of 10 different CFL commissioners on Grey Cup Sundays

195 – Total number of TSN staff (technical, production, support and on-air) working Grey Cup weekend

155 – Number of microphones used by TSN on GREY CUP SUNDAY

150 – Number of broadcast monitors in one TSN broadcast truck

55 – Number of Darren Dutchyshen’s “extended” family from Porcupine Plain, Sask. joining him at the game

FACT: TSN uses two different production crews for the 101st GREY CUP: one for the game and one for the pre-game show and SiriusXM Grey Cup Half-Time Show

37 – Number of cameras TSN will use during TSN’s broadcast of the 101st GREY CUP including a helicopter cam to capture aerial views of the city

21 – Number of JUNO nominations garnered by multi-platinum pop group Hedley, who will perform at the SiriusXM Grey Cup Half-Time Show at the 101st GREY CUP

15 – Number of Grey Cup games called by TSN’s Chris Cuthbert. He is joined by CFL ON TSN analyst Glen Suitor in the broadcast booth for the 101st GREY CUP

FACT: Hedley singer Jacob Hoggard finished in third place on the second season of CTV’s Canadian Idol

1 – Ranking of the 1989 Grey Cup (Riders vs. Ti-Cats) on the SPORTSCENTRE Top 10 list of the greatest CFL championship games of all time

101st Grey Cup on TSN and RDS

The biggest annual sporting event in Canada is here once again. The 101st edition of the CFL Grey Cup will be played this Sunday at Mosaic Stadium in Regina as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders. TSN television and radio networks will have full English-language coverage, with RDS handling the French side of things from 5pm ET. 

Saturday, Nov. 23

GREY CUP SATURDAY – 12 noon ET live on TSN

TSN delivers comprehensive coverage of the CFL championship on GREY CUP SATURDAY, with SPORTSCENTRE hosts Jennifer Hedger and Darren Dutchyshen live from the Nissan Family Zone in Regina. Throughout the day, the CFL ON TSN panel checks in from Mosaic Stadium with Grey Cup news and analysis.

Additional GREY CUP SATURDAY highlights include:

  • GIBSON’S FINEST CFL PLAYER AWARDS at 12:30 p.m. ET, honouring the CFL’s top players from the 2013 season
  • SPORTSCENTRE TOP 25 CFL PLAYS OF 2013 at 2:30 p.m. ET, counting down the 25 best plays from the 2013 CFL season
  • A special CABBIE PRESENTS from Regina with host  Cabral ‘Cabbie’ Richards
  • 100th GREY CUP at 7 p.m. ET. In anticipation of this year’s championship game, TSN delivers an encore presentation of the historic 100th GREY CUP that saw the Toronto Argonauts defeat the Calgary Stampeders in front of a home crowd.

Sunday, Nov. 24


TSN’s pre-game coverage airs live from Mosaic Stadium, kicking off with SPORTSCENTRE hosts Jennifer Hedger and Darren Dutchyshen.

At 3 p.m. ET, hosts Dave Randorf and Brian Williams take over at Mosaic Stadium for the game, alongside the CFL ON TSN panel featuring Grey Cup champion Chris Schultz, two-time Grey Cup champion and Canadian Football Hall of Famer Matt Dunigan, Jock Climie, Canadian Football Hall of Famer Milt Stegall, and former CFL head coach Paul LaPolice.

The GREY CUP SUNDAY PRE-GAME SHOW also checks in with Cabbie as he hosts the Sun Life Grey Cup Fan March from Victoria Park to Mosaic Stadium, and delivers another special edition of CABBIE PRESENTS from Regina.

Includes four pieces presented by TSN’s Brian Williams, these features explore the fascinating tales behind some of the CFL’s greatest stories, achievements, and venues:

  • The History of Taylor Field
    As the Saskatchewan Roughriders plan the construction of their new stadium, Brian Williams celebrates the storied history of Taylor Field, which has been home to Rider Nation for over a century. Williams’ piece is a look back at this hallowed football ground, which has played host to Roughriders football as far back as 1910.
  • The Ottawa RedBlacks
    The city of Ottawa revives its CFL dreams next season with the inception of the Ottawa RedBlacks. Presented by Brian Williams, this piece is an update on the CFL’s return to the nation’s capital, including a tour of the newly-renovated Lansdowne Park and an interview with RedBlacks president Jeff Hunt.
  • Journey to the Grey Cup
    In two separate features, TSN follows the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats on their drive towards the CFL’s championship game. Seen through the eyes of players and coaches, and featuring in-game mic commentary from star players including Darian Durant and Jamall Johnson, fans can relive the highs and lows of the Riders and Ti-Cats’ respective seasons.
  • Saskatchewan, by Michael Farber
    As a tribute to the host province of the 101st GREY CUP, Sports Illustrated journalist and TSN contributor Michael Farber has penned a video essay about the psyche of Saskatchewan. It illustrates the history of the province, the geographic hardships faced by its settlers, and the significance of football to those who make their home in the Land of Living Skies.

101st GREY CUP – 6 p.m. ET live on TSN, TSN Radio, and TEAM Radio

TSN’s acclaimed broadcast team of Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor are in the broadcast booth at Mosaic Stadium, providing play-by-play commentary and game analysis during the 101st GREY CUP on TSN. Veteran broadcaster Cuthbert has called the action in 15 previous CFL championship games, while Suitor – a Grey Cup champion with the Saskatchewan Roughriders – makes his sixth appearance in the booth for the big game. Reporting from the sidelines are TSN’s Sara Orlesky and Farhan Lalji.

Prior to kick-off, TSN will feature a performance by Saskatchewan natives The Sheepdogs as part of the CFL’s special Kick-Off Show, which also features player introductions and the national anthem performed by Serena Ryder. At halftime, TSN has live coverage of the SiriusXM Grey Cup Half-Time Show featuring Canadian multi-platinum pop group Hedley. Continue reading

New CFL/TSN Contract is Fair for Both Sides

So I finally got around to writing a bit about the new CFL on TSN television contract. I didn’t want to focus too much on the money spent because I figured many were wondering about how it would affect CFL television coverage in Canada. I thought the mainstream media did a reasonable job of covering the positive effects it will have on the well-being of the league. That was until I read Toronto Sports Media’s column on the new deal. TSM thinks that there is “NO way” TSN can make money off a deal where they are paying between 350, 000 and 400, 000 per game. He doesn’t really give any reasons why he thinks this, other than he doesn’t like the CFL. Now I have no idea how much revenue TSN makes off a given CFL game and considering his lack of evidence, I doubt he does either.

Most mainstream media sources cite the new CFL on TSN deal as being worth between $30 (The Star) and $40 million per year (Vancouver Sun). Either way that’s significantly more than the $15 million per season the CFL has received since going exclusive with TSN in 2008. The value of the league has more than doubled in five years. And that’s despite the fact that TSN signed the deal at the last-minute of their exclusive negotiating window. Not that any other networks were going to challenge TSN. Sportsnet is happy with the Blue Jays during the summer. CBC is facing budget cuts and will focus on keeping Hockey Night in Canada. Shaw shelved their proposed sports channel because they knew they couldn’t compete with Bell and Rogers.

Like I said, I have no idea how much revenue TSN gets from any individual CFL broadcast. So the only real comparison on how good the CFL’s new deal is another sports broadcast on TSN. The NHL gets around $33 million a season (or $200 million over six seasons) from TSN for 70 regular season TSN-produced broadcasts featuring Canadian teams and some playoff games. Depending on how many Canadian teams make the playoffs, some seasons TSN gets to show a Canadian team in the first round. Others they don’t. The past couple seasons have shown that it isn’t a guarantee.

TSN averaged 714, 000 viewers for NHL regular season games in 2009-10, with numbers in 2010-11 slightly higher. I don’t think TSN released season averages for last season. CFL on TSN regular season ratings have leveled off, averaging 637, 000 and 674, 000 in 2011 and 2012 respectively. This after the shockingly high average of 807, 000 in 2010. Those ratings aren’t that far below what TSN gets for the NHL. CFL is the second most consistent performer on Canadian TV, after NHL.

TSN pays around $475, 000 per regular season NHL game. Under the new contract, which sees the CFL regular season schedule increase from 72 to 81 regular season games when Ottawa joins the league next season. Using the median of the dollar values for the new CFL contract reported by the media, $35 million, TSN will pay just over $430, 000 per regular season game. Of course it is worth remembering TSN is paying for playoffs too, and TSN produces more NHL playoff games than the CFL has. TSN signed the NHL contract five years ago. NHL ratings have also jumped for TSN in that time. The NHL will certainly get more money for its next cable contract than it does now.

So, based on that, I think TSN is paying market value for CFL broadcasts. I think Toronto Sports Media is blinded by his dislike of the league, which isn’t unusual. A lot of people seem to deny how well Canadian football does for TSN for whatever reason. Even if TSN could pay less for the league, the two businesses have a great partnership. I don’t think either party wanted to rip-off the other, and I certainly don’t think TSN is “desperate for content” or that the CFL “stole 30 million dollars” (so are CFL rights worth nothing in that case?).

And even if TSN did pay more than the broadcasts are worth, surely the deal can also be considered as an investment for when TSN likely signs a new contract with the CFL in five more years. The CFL isn’t like the Olympics, or even the NHL. Putting money into the league makes a real difference. Every team should make money now. The new Ottawa franchise is entering a much more stable league than the Renegades did twelve years before. New stadiums are coming, the salary cap might go up, the CFL can put more into marketing and getting fans to the gate (personally I gained a greater appreciation after I saw a game live). That should translate into more fan interest, higher ratings and more adverting revenue for TSN over the next five seasons.

Details of New CFL on TSN Deal

Was so busy last week I barely even had time to look at the press release for TSN’s new CFL deal. So, here are some of the details. And while you read, here is music history from Saturday night. Blur’s Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon played their song “Tender” with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, officially ending of of music’s biggest rivalries, I guess. It was either great, or worse than sipping champagne at 10 Downing, depending on who you are.

  • It’s a 8-year deal that runs through the end of the 2018 season and includes every regular season and playoff game for TSN, RDS (Alouettes and playoffs) and RDS2.
  • Also includes radio rights for the Grey Cup for TSN Radio and TEAM radio stations.
  • Otherwise it seems everything is basically the same as before. The schedule will expand to 81 games next season when Ottawa rejoins the league, an increase from 73 this season.
  • The CFL’s exclusive negotiating window with TSN ended at the end of January. The CFL wanted an exclusive deal with Bell.
  • The guarantee of Canadian markets facing Canadian markets in every game was important for TSN.
  • Cohon thinks it gives the CFL the dollar guarantee that allows it to invest in new infrastructural and ideas.
  • TSN’s Stewart Johnston on the prospect of moving the Grey Cup to CTV, “Well we love our parent network at CTV, but I can tell you honestly, it wasn’t once discussed. We love what the Grey Cup has done for the TSN brand in the past five years.” It’s not a problem for the CFL, as I’ve mentioned before.
  • You can listen to Johnston and Cohon on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor from last week here. I wish I had more to say about it, but it’s really more of the same.

March Madness… TSN’s March Madness coverage continues to have both bright spots and some real annoyances for viewers. The features on Canadian players are great. Dan Shulman and Sam Mitchell are great on the studio panel. Host Kate Beirness is really growing into the job. And best of all TSN barely showed any of the games that were on CBS over the weekend. Not only that, but Beirness and the bottomline directed viewers to watch CBS. Meanwhile TSN and TSN2 focused on games that were broadcast on cable channels TBS, TNT and TruTV in the States. The only thing I found poor about TSN’s coverage was the constant flipping of games from TSN to TSN2. It got confusing. And while the bottomline said which game was on CBS, it never mentioned what games were broadcast on the other network. At the opening of each broadcast it was never really revealed which games TSN would show and which ones would air mainly on TSN or TSN2. A little more consistency in leaving one game on the same network would be nice, instead of constantly switching at halftime.

Soccer… 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying continues tomorrow. Before getting to what’s on tomorrow, GolTV deserves credit for using the RTE Irish domestic commentary of the Sweden v. Ireland game on Friday evening. Despite audio troubles in the first five minutes, it was a lot better than their usual annoying American commentators calling the match off a screen from Florida.

But on to the more interesting matter. England travels to Podgoric to face Group H leaders Montenegro in a key qualifying match tomorrow night. International broadcasts of the match, originally marketed for by Kentaro, have taken an interesting turn. GolTV shows Kentaro matches in North America. This game was one of the biggest in the package of qualifiers that GolTV purchased from Kentaro last year. However, the Montenegro FA recently pulled out of their contract with Kentaro. With that GolTV lost rights to the match and it will now air on Sportsnet.

A similar situation occurred in England where ITV nearly lost rights to the match after paying Kentaro an upfront fee for it. Kentaro still claims (or at least claimed as of last week) to hold international rights to Montenegro home matches internationally. GolTV in the US included it on their broadcast schedule as recently as the weekend. GolTV in Canada still does. The Guardian has an interesting article on the situation. It also explains why Brazil’s World Tour matches have disappeared from GolTV this season, as Kentaro has lost rights to those as well. No word yet on how this affects GolTV’s coverage of Ireland v. Austria tomorrow evening. The match was originally scheduled for tape-delay at 6pm ET; however, with this development it could air live at 4:45pm ET. In other action tomorrow evening France and Spain battle for the top spot in Group I on Sportsnet ONE.

MLB… The 2013 Jays broadcast schedule is out. 20 games will air exclusively on Sportsnet ONE. Most of those are due to NFL or Memorial Cup conflicts. Because of regional hockey conflicts another ten games in April will air on different combinations of the Sportsnet channels (six of those are also on ONE). The other 132 games will air on all four regional channels. I also have Sportsnet’s MLB schedule (I’ll post it later this weekend when I get the chance). Sportsnet ONE has close to 90 other MLB games, while the regional channels will combine for around 175 games. TSN2 has Sunday Night Baseball again. By my count there are over 450 games on Canadian TV this season, not including American networks like FOX or WGN.

100th CFL Grey Cup on TSN

The Toronto Argonauts will play against the Calgary Stampeders from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, in the 100th edition of the CFL Grey Cup tonight at 6:30pm on TSN.

TSN will have nearly ten hours of television coverage today including:
1 p.m. ET — Grey Cup Pre-game
6 p.m. ET — Countdown to Kickoff
6:30 p.m. ET — The 100th CFL Grey Cup
10 p.m. ET — Grey Cup Post-game

Coverage of the big game can be heard across the country on TSN’s radio network beginning at 4 p.m. ET, live on tsn.ca, and seen on TSN Mobile TV. French coverage will begin on RDS at 5 p.m. ET.

Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor will be calling the action for those watching on TV; Dave Randorf and Brian Williams along with the CFL on TSN panel will be hosting the many hours of pre-game; on TSN Radio Toronto, Mike Hogan and Sandy Annunziata will have the call, with Rod Black and Duane Ford handling the duties on TSN stations in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Winnipeg.

Pre-game entertainment will feature a performance from Johnny Reid, and the national anthem by Burton Cummings. The half-time show will feature the vocal stylings of  Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Marianas Trench, and Gordon Lightfoot. 

New this year, “Field Access” will be available online at tsn.ca/fieldaccess where viewers can watch alternate angles and coverage of pre-game warm-ups, as well as the main event. It will also feature a live chat beginning during pre-game and continuing throughout the match.

CFL by the numbers, following the jump…
Continue reading

CFL Divisional Playoff Ratings

Here are the ratings for yesterday’s games.

Edmonton @ Toronto: 1.1 million
Saskatchewan @ Calgary: 1.6 million

The East Semifinal is down 500, 000 viewers from the combined TSN/RDS audience for Tiger Cats-Alouettes last year. The discrepancy is probably slightly smaller when the RDS number, which isn’t available yet,  for this year’s game. However, the West Semifinal is up 350, 000 viewers over the TSN audience for Stampeders-Eskimos last season. I think its safe to assume somewhere between 100, 000 and 200, 000 watched the East Semi on RDS, so the numbers are more or less on par with last season’s Divisional Semifinals.

Weekend Sports Ratings Update: July 16, 2012

A little treat for everyone this evening. I have the ratings for all 4 CFL games and all 3 Jays games over the weekend. It looks like the CFL has rebounded after a bit of a slow start. The four games on the weekend averaged just over 700, 000 viewers on TSN and RDS. That is a rebound from last week when only two games cracked 700, 000 viewers. And one game (CGY-TOR) was below 500, 000. This week three of the four games hit the 700, 000 mark, with the other nearing 600, 000.

The Jays, meanwhile, averaged 663, 000 viewers for their three game series with Cleveland. These are also up slightly from last weekend’s series against Chicago. The Jays hit a high of 758, 000 viewers on Sunday afternoon, when there wasn’t much else on for sports.

What has impressed me most overall this season is how sports ratings in general are up this summer. People (a lot of people) watched Euro 2012 on hot summer afternoon. Jays ratings are well up from last season. CFL ratings are also, at the very least, holding consistent when compared to the first few weeks of last season. That may or may not be good news for the CFL as it enters into negotiations for a new television deal. Holding steady is always good; however, last year’s ratings were down overall from 2010. While the CFL’s ratings still put it in the top-tier of Canadian sports, I’m sure a slight bump wouldn’t hurt the league’s finances a bit.

Here are all the CFL and Jays ratings for this past weekend.

CGY-MTL, July 12, TSN/RDS: 799, 000
WPG-EDM, July 13, TSN: 596, 000
BC-SSK, July 14, TSN: 707, 000
TOR-HAM, July 14, TSN: 751, 000

CLE-TOR, July 13, SN: 645, 000
CLE-TOR, July 14, SN: 586, 000
CLE-TOR, July 15, SN: 758, 000