Last year when the NFL Network made its CFL debut, the halftime hosts didn't always get the names of the teams right. The CFL only has 8 teams, and perhaps the Toronto Argonauts don't roll off the tongue as easily for them as the Houston Texans.
Would things be better for the NFL Network in 2011?
The graphic above proves that the cable channel has a long way to go. Winnipeg is the Blue Bombers (two words), but Hamilton's nickname is the Tiger-Cats. The NFL Network did get the hyphen correct, but they aren't the Wild-Cats.
To be fair, the NFL Network deserves credit for not showing the score of the tape-delayed game, something the NHL Network could learn on CBC Hockey Night in Canada late-night rebroadcasts.
Maybe nicknames are confusing. But Canada's largest city, and a place where the NFL Network has broadcast a game, the NFL Network couldn't screw that up, could they?
The mistakes ran throughout the entire game, and even after the game was over, which leads us to a bigger problem.
The NFL Network only showed live CFL broadcasts in 2010, and Saturday night was the first opportunity to see what the NFL Network would do with a tape-delayed CFL game. We praised the decision to get more games on the air, especially from out west (Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver). What followed was a sad disappointment.
In watching the tape-delayed game, you got a sense that the game was going into overtime since in the 3-hour alloted timeslot, we neared the end of regulation close to the 2½-hour mark. The game didn't go to overtime and ended in regulation.
Now the NFL Network never carried the halftime show from TSN, something that we understood, even though the NHL Network carries CBC intermission programming (but not TSN programming). That was fine. The problem came that the NFL Network cut away part of the game itself from the broadcast.
About 3 game minutes disappeared from early in the 4th quarter. The channel went to break at 14:30 in the 4th quarter, after Toronto had scored a TD. When we came back, there was 11:29 remaining in regulation. The TSN graphic showed that we missed the first 5 plays of the subsequent Stampeders drive, covering 44 yards and starting on Calgary's 34-yard line.
If there was a double or triple OT game, and some part of the game was removed, we wouldn't be happy, but that decision would make sense. To cut away part of the game to reduce the time of the contest to 2½ hours, someone needs to explain that jackass move.
The NFL Network has to fill 24 hours a day with off-season programming, and the CFL comes along to help them out. But any CFL game that the NFL Network carries that ends in regulation, the entire game should be on display.
If you cut out 20 minutes for halftime, CFL games will fit in well under the 3-hour mark (unless overtime is involved). If money is the issue, the NFL Network has our permission to pad the game with extra commercials.
In the initial schedule, the Argos-Stampeders game was the only one to be tape-delayed. So while we are rooting for more tape-delayed games, the NFL Network needs to rethink its priorities, and put programming and even ads ahead of other considerations.
The NFL Network opener for the CFL was Thursday night as the BC Lions traveled to Montréal to battle the Alouettes. The channel didn't show any pre-game festivities from Montréal, choosing to kill time in the studio. The MLB Network does this with its games that it takes from other feeds, but they take the time to talk about the game itself. A little bit of pre-games, especially on Opening Day, wouldn't hurt.
If the NFL Network is worried about people not understanding CFL football, the channel should educate the viewers. And based on the screen grabs, they could start the education for its staff.
As a public service to the NFL Network and those fans still unfamiliar with the CFL, here are the 8 CFL teams.
|Eastern Division||Western Division|
|Montréal Alouettes||Saskatchewan Roughriders|
|Toronto Argonauts||Calgary Stampeders|
|Hamilton Tiger-Cats||Edmonton Eskimos|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||BC Lions|
[Here is the remaining July schedule on the NFL Network.]
screen grab via the NFL Network