GamePlus stays exclusive to Rogers customers; Rogers appeals to the hip kids

…The CRTC announced yesterday morning that it had dismissed Bell Media’s complaint over the NHL Game Centre app and the exclusive GamePlus features available only to Rogers customers, calling it “innovative”.

To encourage innovative ways of presenting content and the creation of compelling content for digital media, including Internet and mobile video services, the CRTC allows companies to provide exclusive content to their subscribers, as long as it is not created mainly for traditional television.

The CRTC considers that the programming available on GamePlus is essentially produced for distribution on digital media. As such, it can be offered exclusively and does not constitute an undue preference in favour of Rogers subscribers. In the CRTC’s view, Rogers is in compliance with the established rules.

The CRTC chairman added that GamePlus is a second-screen digital-only experience and thus is compliant with the current rules for television that Bell used to make their argument. If Bell were smart, they would offer exclusive content to their customers for major properties they have rights to such as the NFL.

…Sportsnet is allegedly hip with the kids – so says a new research survey released earlier this month.

Asked to identify the biggest changes in this year’s NHL telecasts, respondents cited the availability of more out-of-town games, more games on additional channels and a “hipper” feel to telecasts. One person’s response: “It’s different, trying to appeal to the younger viewer somewhat but I’m still fine with it.”

Among the biggest complaints lobbed at Rogers were fewer Montreal Canadiens games and less access to French broadcasts, while some respondents described the new telecasts as “flashy” and “gimmicky.”

Depending on what circles you frequent, you’re probably one of the 55% who rank Rogers’ broadcasts as average to poor or one of the 38% who gave them a score of between seven and nine out of ten. The lads over at Pension Plan Puppets do a great job of destroying the Rogers press release touting their newfound coolness.

…Tomorrow night is the hugely anticipated (read: I only just heard about it for the first time) debut of Hockey Wives – an eight-part realty series about the life and times of wives of ice hockey players in the NHL on something called the W Network. I’m sure it’ll be riveting.

— Dan | @SportsOnCdnTV

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News & Notes Thanksgiving Edition: First Week of Rogers Hockey, TSN Radio Hockey Stats Show

Rogers seems to have gotten through their first week of 12 years of full-time NHL broadcasting without any major disasters. Personally, I haven’t seen a second of their national Wednesday night or Saturday night broadcasts due to work commitments, so I can’t comment of the television product. I have however been using GameCentre Live, so I hope to get up a post reviewing that sometime this week. Plenty of others have commented on the broadcast coverage after the weekend though:

With less work now at TSN, two of their biggest names will be making frequent trips south of the border in a major pickup for NBC. Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger have joined NBC Sports as contributors for this season according to Sports Illustrated. McKenzie will be a full-time contributor, flying down to NBC’s Connecticut studios each week for their Wednesday Night Rivalry broadcasts, as well as travelling on-site for NBC’s All-Star, Stanley Cup and Draft shows. Dreger will also appear, but the details of when and how often weren’t elaborated on. Both will continue to appear on TSN.

TSN Radio will debut a new nationwide hockey analytics shows entitled TSN Hockey Analytics. Catchy, I know. The weekly show will explore the latest on advanced statistics in hockey, which is all the rage these days, in case you haven’t heard. The show will air Saturday afternoons on TSN Radio stations across the country, as well as live streamed online at TSN.ca, via the TSN GO app and available as a podcast download. Hosted by Andy McNamara, it will feature regular appearances by the TSN Hockey team as well as Globe and Mail hockey writer James Mirtle, stats writer Travis Yost, analysts Jamie McLennan and TSN’s statman Scott Cullen.

Telus Optik TV customers are now the latest Canadians to have access to TSN GO website and mobile streaming service. The list of providers that can now use the service include: Bell TV, FibreOp TV (Bell Aliant), NorthernTel, Rogers, Shaw Cable, Shaw Direct, and Source Cable.

ICYMI: FX Canada Now Available On Bell Just In Time For Hockey
ICYMI: Sportsnet Boasts Huge Numbers For NHL Opener, Though Down From CBC Last Year
ICYMI: 2014 MLB Postseason: ALCS and NLCS on Sportsnet and Fox


Dan — @SportsOnCdnTV

 

Mid-Week Notes: November 23

Some quick mid-week notes before Wednesday Night Hockey comes on tonight. A Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers; enjoy your long weekend.

  • The big news of the first half of the week was Sidney Crosby’s return to NHL action. CBC added the game to their broadcast schedule less than 30 hours before game-time. An average of 1.2 million viewers watched the game on CBC. The audience peaked at 1.55 million viewers at 7:18pm ET, just after Crosby scored his first goal. Those numbers tell us two things. The first is the impact social media has on ratings; usually the peak audience is closer to the end of the game, not early in the first period. The second is how consistent the audience was throughout. The peak was only 350, 000 more viewers than the average, usually there is a greater polarization. The only question that leaves me is, how many people actually watched the game start to finish?
  • Crosby didn’t fare so well south of the border, where an average only 198, 000 tuned in on Versus. That is one of the worst showings for an NHL game on Versus this season. The game did slightly better in Pittsburgh, where it was broadcast on FSN (and blacked out on Versus). However, viewership in the States, where the league relies on Crosby for media attention, was still poor. While 24 hours is more than enough time to spread the word of a big game in hockey-crazed Canada, maybe it isn’t the United States where football rules on Sunday and Monday.
  • One last note on hockey ratings, Puck the Media has all of my Hockey Night in Canada information for the season so far compiled into one post. It’s worth taking a look at. So far CBC is averaging 2.21 million viewers for the Saturday 7pm ET timeslot, with an average of 918, 000 tuning into the 10pm ET games on Saturday. Four Hockey Night in Canada Specials (2 on opening night, Winnipeg’s home opener and Crosby’s return) averaged 1.49 million viewers. The average rating for 19 HNIC broadcasts so far this season is 1.5 million (note: this doesn’t include the Senators @ Rangers matinee on October 29). CBC’s pre-game show, Hockey Tonight, is averaging 744, 000 viewers thus far.
  • The CFL Division Finals pulled in solid ratings for TSN on Sunday. The West Final (Eskimos @ Lions) averaged 1.8 million viewers, while the East Final (Tiger Cats @ Blue Bombers) averaged 1.3 million. Not bad considering neither game was particularly close. However, those numbers are still down from last year when the West Final (Roughriders @ Stampeders) averaged 2.3 million and the East Final (Argonauts @ Alouettes) averaged 1.2 million. The average for both games is down from 1.75 million to 1.55 million.
  • Yahoo’s Andrew Buchholz wrote an excellent article about whether the drop in CFL ratings this season is concering. The ratings for TSN’s five-year deal will probably be up over those in the final few years of the TSN/CBC combined deal. This is largely because of the switch to portable-people-meters in 2009. However, the drop this year may result in rights fees not going up as much as they would have if the CFL signed a new broadcast deal at the end of last season. I expect a new CFL deal, which would take effect beginning with the 2013 season, will be over the next few months. It is possible that the CFL will re-sign with TSN without inviting anyone else to the table. I hope there is at least a bid this time though.
  • TSN’s Grey Cup coverage is the gold standard of Canadian sports broadcasting. It is every bit as good as an NFL broadcast, and the Sunday pregame show is in many ways better than the Super Bowl pregame show. TSN’s 30 minute documentary on the 1991 Toronto Argonuats looks like can’t-miss programming. Chris Cuthbert and Brian Williams are two of Canada’s top five sports broadcasters, in my opinion. Cuthbert provides a game just the right level or excitement, without going overboard (like, say, Gus Johnson). You can hear some of Cuthbert’s great Grey Cup calls in this video, SportsCentre’s Top 10 Grey Cup Moments (10, 8, 4, 1 are all Cuthbert).
  • Rogers has announced which UEFA Champions League games it will air on the final group stage matchday. On Tuesday December 6, Chelsea vs. Valencia will air on Sportsnet World, Olympiacos vs. Arsenal on Sportsnet and Porto vs. Zenit on Sportsnet One; on Wednesday December 7, Basel vs. Manchester United will air on Sportsnet World, Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich on Sportsnet and Ajax vs. Real Madrid on Sportsnet One. Rogers has assigned the two top matches (both win and you’re in, featuring a top English team) to Sportsnet World.
  • The NFL’s annual Thanksgiving Day games are tomorrow afternoon. The NFL’s (and Fox’s) preseason pick of the Green Bay Packers to play the usually hapless Detriot Lions in the early game turned out great. The Lions aren’t so hapless this year, at 7-3, while the Packers are still undefeated at 10-0. I expect great ratings in the US for this game. The second game features the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins; CBS will be happy because the Cowboys are in playoff contention and also deliver Turkey Day ratings. NFL Network managed to get a stud for primetime as well when the 9-1 49ers visit the 7-3 Ravens (this game is on Sportsnet in Canada). The commentators tomorrow include Joe Buck and Troy Aikmen in Detroit, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in Dallas, and Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock in Baltimore.
  • Considering that the three best NFL games are on Thursday and Monday this week, there isn’t much left for CBS, Fox and NBC on Sunday. Football fans won’t have a hard time finding something to watch in the evening since the Grey Cup is on, but the early afternoon slot might be a different story. CTV and TSN2 are only making two games available to Canadians. Despite not being a great on-field matchup, I’d recommend Bills @ Jets (which is on every CBS station carried in Canada, as well as many CTV affiliates). It is an odd chance to hear the great Marv Albert call a football game.
  • The college football bowl schedule for Canadian TV is now available. Six games aren’t scheduled to air in Canada. TSN could add those to their schedule later on; if not, they will probably be available on the Super Sports Pak.

Mid-Week Notes: November 16

Again, I was busy on Monday and didn’t have time to write Monday Morning Commentator. Maybe I’ll start doing mid-week notes regularly instead; it seems I have more free time on Wednesday.

  • As I mentioned last week, CFL ratings are down this season. However, Sunday’s overtime thriller between the Tiger Cats and Alouettes helped the CFL gain respectable ratings for its division semifinals. A total of 961, 000 watched the East Semifinal on TSN. An additional 639, 000 watched on RDS, which can’t be overlooked considering the Alouettes involvement. Last year 1.1 million watched the East Semifinal between Hamilton and Toronto on TSN (Note: RDS numbers for last year are not available; however, they are small for non-Alouettes games). An average of 1.25 million watched the West Semifinal between Calgary and Edmonton on TSN and RDS. 2 million watched last year’s West Semifinal between BC and Saskatchewan. So, even when including RDS’s numbers for the East Semifinal, this year’s games averaged 1.43 million. Last year’s averaged 1.55.
  • Of course TSN is trying to spin that CFL ratings are consistent by including RDS in the numbers in their press release this year. The fact is, they are a bit down. Of course it is fair to include RDS in the East Semi rankings because most of the Alouettes fanbase is French. While TSN’s ratings are slightly down, the number of people watching online streaming increased by 3000 over last season.
  • TSN’s top production team is already in Vancouver more than a week before the Grey Cup. Dave Randorf, Matt Dunigan, Jock Clime and Chris Shultz will host TSN’s coverage of the Divisional Finals from BC Place Stadium on Sunday. Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor will call the West Final, while Rod Black and Duane Forde will call the East Final in Winnipeg. This Tiger Cat fan can’t wait to hear Winnipeg’s number one fan on Sunday.
  • Bob Costas’ interview with former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky on Monday night was fantastic. Costas didn’t appear biased, only stating facts in his introduction (example: Sandusky was the former assistant coach at Penn State, he is at the centre of these allegations). Costas asked all the questions the public wanted answers to. Sandusky didn’t perform anywhere near as well. I would have liked to see Costas question Sandusky about why it took him so long to answer whether he is sexually attracted to young boys. That was the one time when Sandusky seemed hesitant during the interview. Fang’s Bites has a video of the full interview, plus a transcript.
  • The way the media handled the Sandusky case, or even more so the story of the dismissal Joe Paterno was odd. TSN, for example, promoted the Nebraska @ Penn State football game, which was broadcast on TSN2, on SportsCentre. I don’t remember ever seeing a promo for a regular season college football broadcast on SportsCentre before. TSN’s attempt to gain viewers out of a tragedy bothered me. All of the networks (and social media) made a big deal about Paterno’s firing, persecuting him more than Sandusky. For that reason, I still believe Penn State would have been better off keeping Paterno as head coach until the end of the season.
  • Sportsnet’s new CHL Friday Night Hockey broadcast is exactly the boast junior hockey in Canada needs. R.J. Broadhead is a huge improvement over Peter Loubardias as play-by-play. Sam Cosentino and Rob Faulds both have plenty of experience covering junior hockey. Sportsnet’s broadcasts in the past looked amateurish, especially considering they were in standard definition. Friday Night Hockey, which is broadcast in high-definition, is something I Can see myself watching most weeks.
  • The Ultimate Fighting Championship made its free-television debut Saturday night on Fox. I’m not a UFC fan, so I didn’t watch much, but based on what I did see, it was a standard Fox broadcast. Dana White, the UFC’s president, was an analyst. I can only imagine the outrage if Hockey Night in Canada had Commissioner’s Corner with Gary Bettman. By all accounts, Sportsnet did a better job than Fox. By using the international feed, Sportsnet was able to show an undercard fight while Fox previewed the main event.
  • Sportsnet’s broadcast averaged 198, 000. Not a spectacular number, but assuming even another 100, 000 watched on Fox, respectable. Especially considering it went head-to-head with Hockey Night and the main event lasted for less than 2 minutes of the 1 hour broadcast. I will try to post peak numbers during the fight tomorrow, which gives a more accurate picture of how many saw the fight. It really makes me wonder though, how many people are willing to pay $50 for a pay-per-view.
  • The UFC fight overshadowed one of the biggest boxing fights of the year between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. Of course one major problem for boxing was the Pacquiao fight was on pay-per-view. Pacquiao is one of boxing few superstars. I used to watch a lot of boxing; however, I have watched less and less over the past couple seasons. I have only watched one fight this year (Klitschko vs. Haye in July). That fight was on HBO, was at a friend’s house who subscribes to HBO. One factor for me is TSN’s loss of live title fights to HBO Canada. Another, maybe more subconsciously, is we now know the toll concussions take on athletes.
  • The Footy Show on theScore will change timeslots beginning this weekend. It will now air Saturdays at 2pm eastern, just before theScore’s live coverage of the Serie A’s Saturday evening game. The Saturday edition replaces the Sunday morning Footy Show.
  • TSN and Sportsnet both deserve credit for their excellent coverage of international soccer over the last week. TSN’s EURO 2012 studio crew of Luke Wileman, Jason de Vos and Noel Butler is the best in Canada. I hope TSN includes Rohan Ricketts in their coverage of the tournament next season though. TSN also deserves credit for taking the ESPN UK commentary of Jim Proudfoot and Iain Dowie for the Croatia vs. Turkey tie. TSN broadcast five of the six matches they had rights to. Meanwhile, Sportsnet broadcast four international friendlies, plus Canada’s World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night. Sportsnet’s broadcasts included six of the top seven teams in FIFA’s latest rankings.

Mid-Week Notes: November 9

I was too busy on Monday to write Monday Morning Commentator again this week, so, here is a quick round-up of the goings-on in Canadian sports media this week.

  • First, there is an important issue I need to raise. Lately (and by lately, I mean last month) Sportsnet ran a music video with sports highlights featuring Rise Against’s “Make It Stop (September’s Children)”. This song is about bullying, and in-particular, bullying against gay and lesbian teens.  Sportsnet’s video showed UFC clips while the song played. I have a major problem with this. The song is about stopping violence, while the Sportsnet video almost sent the opposite message. It is especially disturbing to me in the wake of a British Columbia teen who committed suicide after being bullied because he was gay a couple of weeks ago. For me, this was a lack of research or judgment from Sportsnet. Here is the original video. I’m sure many of you have seen the Sportsnet version.
  • TSN will show their first of four university football playoff games on Friday when UBC takes on Calgary in the Canada West Hardy Cup. Rod Black and Duane Forde are in Calgary to call the game. TSN will also have the Uteck Bowl and Mitchell Bowl next Friday, and then the Vanier Cup on November 25.
  • Black and Forde will stay in Alberta to call the CFL West Division Semi-final on Sunday afternoon between the Stampeders and Eskimos in Edmonton. Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor will call the East Division Semi-final from Montreal between the Alouettes and Tiger Cats.
  • CFL regular season ratings this season were quite disappointing, in my opinion. According to an article in the Toronto Star this morning, TSN and RDS averaged 700, 000 viewers this season, down from 876, 000 last season. That still makes the CFL the second most popular league in Canada, behind the National Hockey League, but it is a bit concerning for a few reasons. The first is most other sports properties have ratings trending upwards, including the CFL’s main summer competitor, Blue Jays baseball. Blue Jays broadcasts on Sportsnet were up 17% this season, averaging 507, 000 viewers. Tue downturn in ratings can easily be attributed to the Roughriders and Argonuats finishing out of the playoffs. But a greater concern is the lack of star power in the league, especially once Anthony Calvillo retires. It will be interesting to see if both trends continue next season.
  • I’m beginning to think the CFL signing with only TSN may have been a mistake. Next time around, the CFL may want to come up with an NFL-style deal. Maybe they should sell a game of the week back on CBC, along with a Labour Day game, a Thanksgiving Day game and the final game of the season (for a total of 22). Let TSN take 25 more for Friday Night Football. The other 30 could air on TSN on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. TSN and CBC would show 1 semi-final and 1 division final each, with the Grey Cup alternating between the two year-to-year. Some competition would improve TSN’s broadcasts, which have largely remained the same since 2007.
  • Meanwhile, NHL ratings are back to normal now that the MLB postseason is over. All 5 broadcasts on CBC and TSN last week averaged over 600, 000 viewers.
  • Canadian soccer fans are well-served this weekend, even those with only basic cable.  TSN and TSN2 will combine for four EURO 2012 Qualifying games, while Sportsnet will broadcast three friendlies (which all feature major European teams).

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.

Mid-Week Notes: October 12 (ratings and more)

With the combination of the long weekend, and my want to write a good article on the Don Cherry debacle at the CBC, I didn’t get a chance to post Monday Morning Commentator this week. I was also waiting for Hockey Night in Canada and CFL on TSN ratings from the weekend.

  • On Thursday 929, 000 viewers tuned in to watch the NHL Face-off Special, a glorified pregame show, on CBC. 1.94 million watched the season opener between Montreal and Toronto. 989, 000 stuck around for the late game between the Penguins and Canucks. On Saturday, 2.54 million watched Ottawa-Toronto and 1.01 million watched Pittsburgh-Calgary. An average of 1.83 million watched the return of the Jets on Sunday on CBC.
  • The traditional Thanksgiving weekend games also scored this weekend for TSN. An average of 637, 000 watched Anthony Calvillo set the all-time pro football passing record against Toronto on Monday afternoon. One million watched the second half of the Thanksgiving double-dip between Saskatchewan-Edmonton. 661, 000 watched Winnipeg-Hamilton on Friday, while 569, 000 tuned in to Calgary-BC Saturday night.
  • I have some baseball ratings for as well. On Monday Texas-Tampa Bay drew 428, 000, while 499, 000 tuned in for New York-Detroit. 638, 000 watched game 4 of New York-Detroit on Tuesday, with 771, 000 watching game 5 on Thursday. The battle between former Jays pitchers in game 5 of St. Louis-Philadelphia gained an average of 768, 000, beating the CFL game that night. Baseball continues to trend up in Canada, this year’s divisional series ratings were up 21% over last year.
  • A few readers have asked why Sportsnet broadcasts the international feed of the NLCS, instead of using TBS’s coverage. While TBS’s coverage is superior, Sportsnet can sell advertising on the virtual board behind home plate when using the international feed. It might make Jays fans feel better if Rogers invested that extra income in the Jays next season.
  • I thought Terry Francona was spectacular in his broadcasting debut on Fox Saturday night. He was even better during game 2 Monday afternoon. Francona was spot-on in most of his analysis, unlike McCarver who always states the obvious. For example, during Wednesday’s game four he said, “A slider, a very descriptive pitch. It just slides along”. Francona also raised the level of Joe Buck, who can be a very good baseball announcer when he wants to. Fox would be wise to hire Francona next season if he doesn’t get a job as a manager. For those wondering, Tim McCarver missed the first two games of the ALCS because he was recovering from an operation.
  • Another useful feature on TV coverage of the postseason this year are the interviews with players and managers during a game. Last week Major League Baseball fined Cardinals manager Tony La Russa for comments he made towards an umpire on TBS. On Monday afternoon the Tigers hit a double off the wall while Fox was interviewing Rangers ace CJ Wilson. Wilson chimed in that it would have been a homerun in July, proving that interviews with players aren’t always useless.
  • TSN2 will air a major college football game this weekend when #11 Michigan plays at #23 Michigan State Saturday afternoon. Even if it is a slow process, college football coverage is improving in Canada. In a major surprise RDS2 will show Florida International vs. Arkansas State (no you didn’t read that wrong, it isn’t Florida or Florida State against Arkansas) next Tuesday. I guess the Sun Belt Conference has some traction in Quebec. It will air head-to-head with a Canadiens game (on RDS) and Senators game (on TVA Sports), so I’m sure the college football fan in Quebec will be happy.
  • Lastly, a reminder that week 3 of the NHL Commentators Competition is now up. You can submit your picks now at this link.