2012 CFL Season Kicks of Tonight on TSN

Same old graphics and a few new features. That sums up the first 90 minutes of TSN’s first CFL broadcast in 2012. Here is their press release with all the details of their coverage this season.

From Canada Day weekend to the 100th Grey Cup, it’s a season like no other and TSN is there every step of the way delivering end-to-end coverage of the 2012 CFL season with its CFL ON TSN broadcast campaign.

TSN’s complete 77-game package is part of the network’s exclusive multi-year deal with the CFL, and includes the playoffs and this season’s historic event: the 100th GREY CUP from Toronto. All games are available live on TSN Mobile TV and on-demand at TSN.ca.

Regular season coverage gets underway on RONA Canada Day Kickoff weekend – June 29-July 1 – with four games.

On Friday, June 29, WENDY’S FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL features opening night doubleheader action. In the first game, the Saskatchewan Roughriders travel to Ivor Wynne Stadium to take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 7 p.m. ET, marking the first time that Ticats receiver Andy Fantuz faces off against his former team. Immediately following the match-up, the CFL ON TSN heads to B.C. Place for a rematch of last year’s GREY CUP final, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers take on the B.C. Lions at 10 p.m. ET.

This year marks the 15th season that TSN brings the WENDY’S FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL brand to fans on an evening that has become destination viewing for the CFL with at least one game throughout the regular season. Making its debut this season is a new WENDY’S FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL opening animation and theme song performed by Brockville, ON native Janey Brown.

On Saturday, June 30, the Toronto Argonauts take on the Edmonton Eskimos at 7 p.m. ET, as Argos quarterback Ricky Ray makes his first appearance at Commonwealth Stadium since being traded to Toronto in the off season.

Finally, on Canada Day (July 1), fireworks are expected on the field when Anthony Calvillo and the Montreal Alouettes travel to McMahon Stadium to battle the Calgary Stampeders – led by quarterback Drew Tate – at 7 p.m. ET.

Also premiering on the CFL ON TSN on Canada Day is a new CFL-produced video, “It Reflects Us All,” underlining the league’s theme for this season. The video is narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.

The CFL ON TSN studio panel starts the season in Hamilton with host Dave Randorf alongside analysts Chris Schultz, Matt Dunigan and Jock Climie on location at Ivor Wynne Stadium. CFL ON TSN analyst Milt Stegall is at B.C. Place in Vancouver as Lions slotback Geroy Simon looks to break the all-time CFL receiving record, which is currently held by Stegall.

Along with every game, TSN brings fans closer to the CFL with all-encompassing coverage on all of its key platforms and properties including TSN Radio and TSN.ca. Key properties such as SPORTSCENTRE has coverage of the CFL all season long, with Canada’s #1 sports news program featuring news, highlights and interviews, plus the CFL ON TSN panel breaking down games and handing out game balls to the league’s standout players each week.

A 3 Downs quiz segment makes its debut this season featuring the CFL ON TSN panel delivering definitive opinions on a variety of topics and issues surrounding the league – all through a fun and interactive multiple-choice quiz format.

The CFL ON TSN also has its finger on the pulse of everything going on socially with the CFL, as this year’s broadcasts feature a new segment called Social CFL with social media correspondent Kate McKenna. Throughout the season, fans can join the conversation on TSN’s Fan Page for Facebook and on Twitter by following the CFL ON TSN on-air personalities and using the hashtags #TSN and #CFL.

Also new this season is the network’s highly-anticipated documentary series, ENGRAVED ON A NATION: STORIES OF THE GREY CUP, THE CFL AND CANADA. Premiering in the fall and commissioned by Bell Media, ENGRAVED ON A NATION salutes the 100th GREY CUP with eight original documentaries that celebrate Canada’s game and the trophy’s place in Canadian history.

The CFL ON TSN is proving to be one of the most sought-after properties for advertisers in Canada. Major sponsors of the 2012 CFL ON TSN broadcast campaign include General Motors, Mr. Lube, Nissan, Purolator, Safeway, Scotiabank, Rona and Wendy’s.

TSN has been televising CFL games since 1986.

Broadcast Schedule

TSN is the official broadcaster of the CFL with every regular season game (72), along with the four divisional playoff match-ups and the GREY CUP (see attached PDF or visit TSN.ca for complete broadcast schedule). Live coverage of all Toronto Argonauts and B.C. Lions games – along with pre- and post-game shows – is also available on TSN Radio in Toronto (AM 1050) and Team 1410 in Vancouver.

Additional highlights of the CFL ON TSN broadcast schedule include:

· Traditional match-ups during Scotiabank Labour Day Weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 3) and four games on Thanksgiving Weekend (Oct. 5-8)

· The final regular season game played at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton on October 27 with the Tiger-Cats taking on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers

· The Canadian Football Hall of Fame Weekend in Winnipeg (Nov. 1-3) as Stegall is among the CFL players and builders being inducted in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame

TSN’s extensive lineup of live game action and programming is supported by an integrated multi-platform CFL ON TSN marketing campaign, which includes an original 30-second promotional TV spot featuring TSN’s football experts and marquee players, along with national radio spots on TSN Radio and Bell Media radio stations, promotion across TSN.ca and the Bell Media network of digital sites, and social media presence through Twitter and TSN’s Fan Page on Facebook.

Broadcast Team

The CFL ON TSN returns to the gridiron with its broadcast team delivering every pass, punt and two-point conversion to Canadian football fans each week.

Chris Cuthbert returns as the primary voice of TSN’s CFL coverage alongside long time game analyst Glen Suitor. TSN’s Rod Black and Duane Forde are also back in the broadcast booth providing fans with play-by-play commentary and game analysis.

Brian Williams and TSN Football Insider Dave Naylor bring fans in-depth features and interviews with key newsmakers on the CFL ON TSN. Naylor will also break down the hot button issues impacting the league during his regular appearances on all of TSN’s platforms throughout the season.

Back in studio is the CFL ON TSN panel, with host Randorf, alongside the always informative – and entertaining – analysts Schultz, Hall-of-Famer Dunigan, Climie, and Stegall. Also making appearances in studio this season is former Winnipeg Blue Bombers lineman Doug Brown.

2012 CFL Preseason on TSN

Personally I think football preseason (both NFL and CFL) is incredibly overrated. Can’t figure why anyone would watch it over baseball, the US Open, Euro 2012 etc, but they do. TSN and TSN2 will show four games over the next two weeks. Here is their press release.

The gridiron is heating up across the country, as Canada’s Sports Leader kicks off the 2012 CFL season with live pre-season double-header action on June 13 featuring Toronto @ Hamilton at 7 p.m. ET immediately followed by Saskatchewan @ B.C. at 10 p.m. ET on TSN.

In total, TSN and TSN2 have live coverage of four pre-season games with live coverage also available on TSN Mobile TV, TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto and Team 1410 in Vancouver. In addition, games are available on-demand online at TSN.ca (see complete CFL pre-season broadcast schedule below).

The networks’ CFL pre-season coverage features play-by-play commentators Chris Cuthbert and Rod Black in the broadcast booth alongside game analysts Glen Suitor and Duane Forde. The popular CFL ON TSN panel is back to break down all the action on – and off – the field with host Dave Randorf and analysts Chris Schultz, Matt Dunigan, Jock Climie and Milt Stegall.

Throughout the pre-season, TSN.ca gives fans a comprehensive CFL season preview package featuring an in-depth look at all the teams as they prepare for the regular season and analysis from TSN’s stable of football experts and Insiders.

Here is TSN’s schedule.

Wednesday 6/13, 7:00pm – Toronto Argonauts @ Hamilton Tiger Cats – TSN
Wednesday 6/13, 10:00pm – Saskatchewan Roughriders @ B.C. Lions – TSN
Friday 6/15, 9:00pm – Edmonton Eskimos @ Calgary Stampeders – TSN2
Wednesday 6/20, 8:00pm – Hamilton Tiger Cats @ Edmonton Eskimos – TSN2

TSN Has CFL Preseason This June

TSN has announced its 2012 CFL preseason TV schedule. Here is the press release, followed by the schedule.

The gridiron is heating up across the country, as Canada’s Sports Leader kicks off the 2012 CFL season with live pre-season double-header action on June 13 featuring Toronto @ Hamilton at 7 p.m. ET immediately followed by Saskatchewan @ B.C. at 10 p.m. ET on TSN.

In total, TSN and TSN2 have live coverage of four pre-season games with live coverage also available on TSN Mobile TV, TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto and Team 1410 in Vancouver. In addition, games are available on-demand online at TSN.ca (see complete CFL pre-season broadcast schedule below).

The networks’ CFL pre-season coverage features play-by-play commentators Chris Cuthbert and Rod Black in the broadcast booth alongside game analysts Glen Suitor and Duane Forde. The popular CFL ON TSN panel is back to break down all the action on – and off – the field with host Dave Randorf and analysts Chris Schultz, Matt Dunigan, Jock Climie and Milt Stegall.

Throughout the pre-season, TSN.ca gives fans a comprehensive CFL season preview package featuring an in-depth look at all the teams as they prepare for the regular season and analysis from TSN’s stable of football experts and Insiders.

Wednesday 6/13, 7:00pm – Toronto Argonauts @ Hamilton Tiger Cats – TSN
Wednesday 6/13, 10:00pm – Saskatchewan Roughriders @ B.C. Lions – TSN
Friday 6/15, 9:00pm – Edmonton Eskimos @ Calgary Stampeders – TSN2
Wednesday 6/20, 8:00pm – Hamilton Tiger Cats @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers – TSN2

100th Grey Cup Documentaries on TSN

Bell Media announced this morning a new documentary series entitled “Engraved on a Nation”. The new series will air on CTV, TSN and RDS in the fall. It will feature eight original documentaries celebrating the 100th Grey Cup.

Here is Bell’s press release.

Today at the Hot Docs International Film Festival, TSN unveiled the slate of films in its ambitious original documentary series, ENGRAVED ON A NATION: STORIES OF THE GREY CUP, THE CFL AND CANADA. Commissioned by Bell Media, ENGRAVED ON A NATION celebrates the 100th Grey Cup with eight original documentaries demonstrating how the Grey Cup has become such an intrinsic part of Canadian heritage.

ENGRAVED ON A NATION will air on TSN, CTV, and in French on RDS beginning in September.

**Media Note: to view a trailer for ENGRAVED ON A NATION, click here.**

The individuals involved in ENGRAVED ON A NATION are among Canada’s most accomplished and respected documentary filmmakers. The filmmakers and the working titles of their documentaries are:
• Manfred Becker – The Photograph: 1942 RCAF Hurricanes
• Christie Callan-Jones – Mavericks: The Story of the 1971 Argos
• Paul Cowan – The Crash of Flight 810
• Barry Greenwald – Western Swagger
• Charles Officer – The Chuck Ealey Story
• Shelley Saywell – The Anthony Calvillo Story
• John Walker – Grey Cup 1969 and the FLQ Crisis
• Larry Weinstein – The 13th Man

“ENGRAVED ON A NATION is a project unlike anything we have ever tackled at TSN. As long-time partners of the CFL, we felt the 100th Grey Cup was the perfect opportunity to show Canadians how the Grey Cup has transcended sports and left an indelible mark on Canada,” said Stewart Johnston, President, TSN. “To tell great stories has always been something that we’ve taken great pride in doing. This ambitious project is an extension of our storytelling philosophy as we weave tales about family, relationships, legacies, politics and culture around the remarkable role that the Grey Cup has played in shaping our national identity.”

“By engaging the Canadian documentary film community, we’ve had the privilege of working with eight acclaimed filmmakers who, over a short period of time, have become custodians of the compelling stories that reflect our country’s history and society through sport over the years,” said Shawn Redmond, Vice-President, Programming, TSN. “Their passion and enthusiasm will make these human interest stories truly memorable – not just for football fans, but for all Canadians.”

Below are summaries of the original documentaries with working titles that will air this fall on TSN:

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TSN Has the CFL Draft on Thursday

For those who just can’t get enough of watching football drafts.

Home-grown talent takes centre stage next Thursday, as the country’s future generation of gridiron stars are introduced to football fans during the 2012 CFL CANADIAN DRAFT, live May 3 at 3 p.m. ET, exclusively on TSN.

The two-hour TSN original production, which is also available live on TSN Mobile TV and TSN.ca, features the first two rounds of the draft with CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon in the CFL ON TSN studio to announce each selection.

Following the televised broadcast of the First and Second Rounds, TSN.ca has bonus live streaming coverage of the Third to Sixth Rounds of the 2012 CFL CANADIAN DRAFT.

TSN’s Rod Black hosts the 2012 CFL CANADIAN DRAFT and is joined by a panel featuring CFL ON TSN analyst and DRAFT guru Duane Forde, who has covered the draft on seven previous occasions. Along with Black and Forde, CFL ON TSN analyst Chris Schultz and TSN Football Insider Dave Naylor are on the panel to break down the DRAFT from the perspective of all eight CFL teams and analyze the players selected over the course of the first two rounds.

Also in studio is TSN’s Farhan Lalji, who is highly involved in high school football in his home province of BC and has seen more than 40 of his players go on to play at the collegiate level during his 23 years of coaching. Joining Lalji on an additional panel of experts are University of Calgary Dinos head coach Blake Nill, Acadia Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins, and McMaster Mauraders head coach Stefan Ptaszek, who led his team to victory at the 2011 Vanier Cup.

Fans watching the 2012 CFL CANADIAN DRAFT can join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtags #CFLDraft and #TSN. Select fan tweets will be featured during the live broadcast along with reaction to the picks from CFL players and prospects on Twitter as the draft unfolds.

TSN’s coverage of the 2012 CFL CANADIAN DRAFT begins with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the clock with the first overall pick. The six-round draft features eligible Canadian players from the CIS and NCAA. Top prospects include: Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford from Windsor, ON; University of Saskatchewan offensive lineman Ben Heenan from Regina; Wilfrid Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers from Markham, ON; Virginia offensive lineman Austin Pasztor from Langton, ON; and Laval linebacker Frédéric Plesius from Laval, QC.

2012 CFL on TSN Schedule

The Canadian Football League has released its 2012 schedule. The season kicks off on June 29 with a doubleheader on TSN and RDS2. This season includes a game on Canada Day, the Monday August holiday (in many provinces), the traditional Labour Day Classics and a Thanksgiving Day doubleheader. Playoff games will take place on November 11 and November 18, with the 100th Grey Cup Game in Toronto on November 25. TSN will release more details of their 2012 TV coverage at a later day; for now, here is the complete 2012 CFL on TSN schedule.

Week 1
Friday 6/29, 7:00pm – Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Hamilton Tiger Cats
Friday 6/29, 10:00pm – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ B.C. Lions
Saturday 6/30, 7:00pm – Toronto Argonauts @ Edmonton Eskimos
Sunday 7/1, 7:00pm – Montreal Alouettes @ Calgary Stampeders

Week 2
Friday 7/6, 7:00pm – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Montreal Alouettes
Friday 7/6, 10:00pm – Hamilton Tiger Cats @ B.C. Lions
Saturday 7/7, 3:00pm – Calgary Stampeders @ Toronto Argonauts
Sunday 7/8, 7:00pm – Edmonton Eskimos @ Saskatchewan Roughriders

Week 3
Thursday 7/12, 7:30pm – Calgary Stampeders @ Montreal Alouettes
Friday 7/13, 9:00pm – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Edmonton Eskimos
Saturday 7/14, 3:00pm – B.C. Lions @ Saskatchewan Roughriders
Saturday 7/14, 7:00pm – Toronto Argonauts @ Hamilton Tiger Cats

Week 4
Wednesday 7/18, 7:30pm – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Toronto Argonauts
Thursday 7/19, 9:00pm – Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Calgary Stampeders
Friday 7/20, 10:00pm – Edmonton Eskimos @ B.C. Lions
Saturday 7/21, 7:00pm – Montreal Alouettes @ Hamilton Tiger Cats

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Comparing CFL and NFL Ratings in 2011

Many Canadian football fans like to discredit either the NFL or CFL (depending on which they prefer) based on ratings. It seems it is a never-ending war between the two sets of fans (full disclosure here, I watch both). The fact is, comparing the ratings of the two is difficult. The CFL only plays four games a week, all of which are on national TV and never conflict with each other. On the other hand, the NFL plays anywhere between 12 and 16 games a week, any many of those games conflict. The numbers for Sunday Night Football are never truly accurate because BBM Canada, who keeps track of ratings for advertisers, doesn’t include people watch on NBC. Monday Night Football is comparable to CFL games, but it rarely features two top teams.

The playoffs are a bit easier to compare, but there is still the issue of the NFL playing more games. While it is reasonable fans will watch two CFL playoff games in a weekend, it is a lot less likely a person would watch all four NFL playoff games in the Wild Card or Divisional rounds. Not to mention two NFL playoff games in those rounds go head-to-head with Hockey Night in Canada. Of course the CFL playoffs face competition from the NFL, while most sports (and TV series) avoid competing with the NFL playoffs. Then there is the Super Bowl vs. the Grey Cup debate. Yes, there are those who watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials, or just for the halftime performance. How many, we will never know.

Because of these factors, it is easy for a fan of one league or the other to make a case that their favourite league is the most popular. It is easy to selectively choose variables to support your opinion.

However, there are two indisputable facts. CFL ratings were down from 2010 to 2011 and NFL ratings were up over the same period. 4.6 million watched the Grey Cup in 2011, down from 6.04 million in 2010. The two CFL Divisional Championship games averaged 1.54 million in 2011. In 2010, those same games averaged 2.0 million (note: the 2010 East Final includes RDS numbers because the Alouettes played in it. The two games in 2010 averaged 1.75 million on TSN, still above the 2011 number).

Sunday’s game averaged 8.15 million on CTV and RDS. That is up almost a million viewers, from 7.3 million last year. The Conference Championship Games averaged 2.2 million in 2012, compared to 2.12 in 2010. Those numbers are a small increase, but an increase nonetheless. It is an indisputable fact that CFL ratings were down in 2011, while NFL ratings were up. More people are watching American football, while less are watching the 110 yard game. Will it continue in to 2012 and beyond, who knows? The CFL better hope not because it will sign a new broadcasting deal sometime this year.

There are really only a few postseason games that are comparable between the two leagues. The obvious is the Super Bowl and the Grey Cup. 8.15 million and 4.6 million; a difference of 3.55 million. Last year the difference was only 1.26 million. There are factors in play, such as NFL competition against the Grey Cup, the Grey Cup only airs on cable and those who only watch the Super Bowl for ads (which is a pointless argument considering nobody likes the Canadian ads anyway), but I don’t think these factors would account for more than a third of Super Bowl viewers anyway. It wasn’t that long ago that the two games were neck and neck in the ratings. This wasn’t true this year.

The NFL Conference Championship and CFL Divisional Championship games are also comparable. The network/cable and NFL competition factors are still in play for these games. The NFL games are also played two hours later (3pm ET and 6:30pm ET, compared to 1pm ET and 4:30pm ET for the CFL games), which usually results in a small increase in ratings. The CFL games averaged 1.54 million, the NFL games 2.2 million; a difference of 660, 000. Not anywhere near as big a gap as the Grey Cup and Super Bowl, but still an increase from only 120, 000 in 2010.

Finally, the CFL’s Divisional Semi Finals and the NFL’s Divisional Playoffs. The Sunday games are comparable. They were both played on Sunday afternoons at 4:30pm ET. One of the NFL Sunday games is even on TSN in Canada. One can’t use the NFL’s Saturday games in the comparison because the CFL doesn’t play on Saturday. Canadians don’t traditionally watch football on Saturday either, we watch hockey. That is why the CFL reverted to playing their playoff games against the NFL after playing them on Saturdays for just one year in 2008.  The CFL West Semi and AFC Divisional Playoff both aired on TSN at 4:30pm ET (the NFL game also aired on FOX, so advantage CFL here). The CFL game (Stampeders @ Eskimos) averaged 1.253 million; the NFL game (Giants @ Packers) averaged 1.244. Of course it is hard to believe that at least 100, 000 people didn’t watch on FOX (I did). The early games had 1.6 million watching Tiger Cats @ Alouettes on TSN/RDS and 1.12 million watching Texans @ Ravens on CTV.

TSN tends to average 400, 000 to 700, 000 viewers for Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football, depending on the matchup. CFL on TSN ratings come in slightly higher, usually in the 500, 000 to 800, 000 range. The are a number of factors, including the high number of NFL games per week and those who watch Sunday Night Football on NBC that make these hard to compare more closely.

For me, the main difference between the two leagues is the number of casual viewers. Each league has about the same amount of fans who every week, as the numbers for the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs prove. However, the NFL’s ratings take a significant jump for the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl compared to the CFL for the Divisional Championships and the Grey Cup. This was more clear than ever this season. There is probably no doubt that the NFL is the second most watched league in Canada, after the NHL. However, the CFL has nothing to be ashamed about for coming in 3rd, well ahead of baseball and curling.

The two leagues are forever linked in Canada because they are direct competitors. It is pointless to argue about which is more popular. Some people need to remember many of us are simply football fans. After hockey, football is the second most popular sport in Canada.

Editors Note: To those reading from the Saskatchewan Roughriders forum, yes these numbers are accurate (or at least as accurate as BBM can be). They are BBM 2+ AMA numbers sourced from BBM itself, CTV and TSN (who in turn originally got the numbers from BBM). I did not make them up. Some include both the English and the French broadcast, while others don’t (mostly because RDS numbers aren’t always available). However, I made every effort to make the fairest comparison possible, including using RDS numbers for any Alouettes playoff games (for the NFL, I’ve only included RDS for the Super Bowl). Anyone who uses this post to prove one league is superior in popularity is missing the point.

If you want to question them, please question them here. I tried to register with the Riders forum yesterday so I could discuss it with you guys, but I still don’t have posting privileges.