I tried really hard to find something wrong with the way NBC Sports Network showcases the CFL. But I could find absolutely no fault. The NHL Network, should we ever get the NHL back, should take lots of notes.
Except for American commercials, the entire TSN broadcast was simulcast. Pre-game, halftime, bumpers out of the break: everything was pure TSN. The NBC Sports Network logo rested comfortably in the upper right-hand corner, and took it easy. No score ticker at the bottom (see NHL Network, you can go without a score ticker). The feed itself was very sharp; we could have easily been in Canada watching this game.
If NBCSN keeps this up through the playoffs, we will be extremely happy. A few more regular season games would be nice.
Chris Cuthbert gave a nice shout-out at the beginning of the game to those watching on the NBC Sports Network. Cuthbert and Gord Miller are used to doing this for NBCSN simulcasts of TSN hockey.
Glen Suitor jumped in toward the end of the game, explaining to American viewers how the clock stops after each play, increasing the chances of late scoring in the CFL vs. the NFL. Didn't feel patronizing, just a nice nod along the lines of what I've heard at CFL games when people sitting around me know I'm not from Canada.
The #1 CFL team on TSN, Cuthbert and Suitor haven't spent much time in the same booth lately. I can't imagine it was coincidence that they worked with each other for the first game on NBCSN.
We noted earlier that the teams playing in CFL games needed to play well to impress not so much the U.S. audience. Geeks such as us don't need to be convinced as to how cool the CFL is. The casual fan tuning in on a warm Monday night without a political convention on the airwaves needed more.
Edmonton and Toronto don't have the high-powered offenses needed to easily impress American audiences. Good defenses, clearly on display, don't inspire casual U.S. fans. This is why most Americans don't like soccer.
A few offsides penalties early in the game were really awkward. The many missed TDs/kicked FGs for Edmonton in the first half. The lack of an Argonauts TD in the first half. Not a great start.
The second half was a lot better; hopefully, people kept their TVs on. Toronto only needed 80 seconds for its first major score of the game in the first series of the second half. Kerry Joseph off the bench throwing a deep pass to Fred Stamps that he caught with one hand at the very last minute. A missed FG by Toronto that was returned by Edmonton, though only to about the 6-yard line.
Say this about the CFL this past weekend, the Edmonton-Toronto game had the largest margin of victory with 9 points. Two of the games were decided on last-minute field goals (one of which got Winnipeg coach Paul LaPolice fired) and Calgary won by a touchdown.
A couple of esthetics: Rogers Centre is not the best place for a CFL game. The sharpness of the TSN feed highlighted the washed-out part of the middle of the Rogers Centre field. Makes you wish the field was in better shape. And the stadium is so much nicer with the roof open than with it closed. Having been in that dome when the roof is closed, you feel like you could be anywhere. With an open roof, you know you're in Toronto.
Montréal's Molson Stadium will be a much better setting for tonight's game (7:30 pm Eastern). This will be the only U.S. regular season airing of the Alouettes, while B.C. will have one more appearance, hosting Edmonton on October 19.
Unlike the stale offenses of Monday's game, the Lions and Alouettes will be much more fun to watch.
Except for those Americans who live within a CBC feed, Americans have never seen holiday doubleheader action. Monday is Labo(u)r Day, and the NBC Sports Network will carry the Battle of Ontario (1 pm Eastern) followed by the Battle of Alberta (4:30 pm Eastern). You might be bored with seeing more of Edmonton and Toronto, but this will be the short term price to pay for the CFL on NBCSN.