CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has made some very good decisions in his limited time as the commissioner. One future decision coupled with another decision may seriously backfire on what has been good will.
"I'd like to see the Grey Cup earlier, it won't happen for 2018, but for 2019 it's possible," Ambrosie told Postmedia. "I'd like to see it maybe the third week of October. That week, almost everywhere in Canada is a fantastic weekend. I've traveled — we've lived in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Oakville, Montréal — the third week in October is amazing. The leaves are changing colours. It's autumn, it's not cold."
We disagree on moving up the season. But we think the move back to the NFL Network is a gigantic mistake. The only issue with the ESPN coverage is not enough games in the fall and occasional issues with previous programming creeping over into the start of the game.
The issue for U.S. outlets is that the NFL and college football make showing CFL games rather difficult in the fall. Moving the season up does not have to be linked with the NFL Network since ESPN would have the same desire.
For those that may not remember how poor the CFL was covered by the NFL Network in 2010 and 2011, let's take you back in our CanadianCrossing.com archives:
"In watching the tape-delayed game, you got a sense that the game was going into overtime since in the 3-hour allotted 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."
"6 of the last 10 games will be on tape delay, including a bizarre take by the NFL Network on October 14, when the kickoff is at 7:30 pm but the coverage starts at 8 pm. The best video people better be on duty that night."
|Remaining CFL games on the NFL Network|
|October 8||3 am||Winnipeg @ Hamilton*|
|October 8||10 pm||Calgary @ B.C.|
|October 14||8 pm||Calgary @ Toronto*|
|October 16||3 am||Winnipeg @ Edmonton*|
|October 22||3 am||Saskatchewan @ Calgary*|
|October 22||3 pm||Montréal @ Winnipeg|
|October 29||3 am||Toronto @ Winnipeg*|
|October 29||3 pm||Hamilton @ Saskatchewan|
|November 5||3 am||Saskatchewan @ Edmonton*|
|November 5||4 pm||Winnipeg @ Calgary|
|* tape delayed game from previous day|
"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 the NFL Network wants to supplement ESPN coverage with tape-delayed games in the fall, that might work provided a few clauses are thrown into the mix.
- all game footage must be aired
- all pregame and halftime footage must be aired
- allow a 3½ hour slot for every game. You can add more commercials if needed to fill out the timeslot.
We did not see that kind of commitment when the NFL Network had the TV rights in the past. We have no reason to believe the channel would do a good job with taped games, much less live games. ESPN has been a good partner and deserves the league's support.
But if the CFL goes back to the NFL Network, then the channel has a guide from us on how not to mess up next time.
photos credit: NFL Network/CFL