Notebook – November 6, 2006

A look at CFL TV coverage, a CFL bidder update, an examination of CFL fans, CFL notes and more in this edition of the Notebook.

CFL Television Coverage

With the conclusion of the CFL season, the final season CFL TV ratings were in, and were substantially down. CBC‘s numbers were down by 10% and TSN‘s numbers were down by 8% from last season’s all-time highs. More of a concern was a 30% drop for TSN‘s numbers in Ontario. Key factors in the drop appear to be the loss of the Ottawa franchise (and reduction of games), poor play in the CFL and bad luck in scheduling. Next year will be important to the league to boost the numbers again to put them in the best position entering negotiations for their next contract.

Going into the semi-finals, the CFL playoffs rights holder CBC announced they would only be showing the Western semi-final and final games in High Definition because they only have one HDTV mobile truck. After a season of poorer quality football games, the playoff season is expected to re-establish strong TV numbers with close, exciting games. Yet the CFL is saddled with the CBC as its broadcaster, which despite its larger reach, must actually hurt the image of the CFL.

The CBC, on top of its problems with quality on-air people and broadcast, cannot provide the equipment necessary to properly broadcast the game. Their competitors in this field all would provide high definition equipment for such important games, regardless of the number of HD sets in the country. Like it or not, the number is only going to grow. After providing one hour pre-game shows for the stretch run of the season, the CBC reverts to a half hour pre-game show prior to the games, with another half hour Saturday afternoon. How does this make any sense? I may be the minority in believing the CBC provides sub-standard broadcasts for the CFL. Chris Zelkovich believes the CBC needs to only address a few points to provide great broadcasts.

CFL Down to Final Bidder

The CFL informed the Frank D’Angelo group that they did not wish to enter into negotiations over a possible franchise available for the Ottawa area. This leaves one bidder left, the Bill Palmer group, unless a new or secret bidder is involved. Likely the CFL has entered into negotiations with the Palmer group, but the chances that no franchise will be awarded has gone up with this news. The season TV ratings, scheduling problems and drop in play this year likely has the CFL determined to award a new franchise for 2008.

CFL Fans

The Blue Bombers loss in Toronto Sunday will send a flood of Grey Cup tickets on the market, and likely mean the remaining 5,000 of a paltry 45,000 seats will not be sold. The CFL may need to stop rotating the game to neutral sites if they cannot get sell-outs (and full stands) in markets with 1-2 years lead time. This is an event that only comes every 8-10 years; fans should go into making their purchase understanding based on history that their team will not likely be in the game, no matter their strength. Hosting a Grey Cup is an opportunity to see a great game. CFL fans would understand that, those aligned to only their team would not. Their team does not exist, however, without the CFL.

In Saskatchewan, the media are once again asserting claims that the province is home of best fans period. While the actions of many Roughrider fans, win or lose, or honourable, and others when their team is winning qualify as great, many things disqualify ‘Rider fans as a whole (which includes everybody in the province and many outside) from the best fans title. First, when they average 100% of capacity in numerous consecutive years, that will be a start. Second, the bandwagon jumping (and I am sure there was a lot on Sunday) after each play is not a quality of the greatest fans. Fair criticism is acceptable, but fans’ turning against their own team does not provide the environment for comebacks like Sunday. Saskatchewan has the highest player altercation rate with citizens off the field, partially because fans (or whatever they are) tend to cross the line with players in public (think Paul McCallum). Finally, proper fan behaviour is a huge reflection of the best fans. Destruction, vandalism and improper public behaviour, both at home and while guests, are not acceptable for those wanting the best fans title.

This is not targeted at anything I saw on Sunday, nor am I trying to paint all Roughrider fans with these “worst” fan habits. I am only pointing out what I feel are attributes of those called the best fans. The term would seem less hollow for me when Saskatchewan fans hoist the title if the facts actually supported their claims.

Media Gives Up on NFL Dream

Reality might have finally sunk in with the Toronto media when Ted Rogers confirmed he has no interest investing his own money in a NFL franchise. Since Rogers corporate would not be allowed to own even a piece of a franchise, Rogers was likely speaking personally. Even though Paul Godfrey will continue to pursue a franchise, Rogers statement may kill this story for the Toronto media for a while since no high-profile persons with the cash necessary to form a group is known.

CFL Notes

Stephen Brunt compares the defensive shifting CFL to the NHL and picks Toronto’s Rich Stubler as the Jacques Lemaire who can take the credit and blame for the widely adopted defensive style.

After a nice in-depth article from the National Post last week on Ricky Williams, another article on Williams’ stay in Toronto reveals more details. It seems it took the Toronto media a whole season to come around to Ricky. Although they still have fun at his expense, as with the constant replay of his “100% of 60%” quote on Sportsnet and Sean Millington stating he needed to get his priorities straight during the CBC pre-game panel.

After finishing in first place, the Montreal Alouettes hope to finish in the black with a home playoff game. Some interesting numbers from the article:

  • they faced a $1 million loss without a playoff game at Olympic Stadium.
  • they pay $300,000 to the Olympic Installation Board to hold a game at the Big O.
  • they now hope to turn a profit of $100,000.
  • they are projecting for a crowd of 50,000 people (part my assumption).

Based on these figures we can surmise that the average ticket price is $28. If Montreal can make a profit (although they do have greater local sponsorships than any other club does) with a 25,000 average over eleven games then the CFL must be on solid ground like they have not seen since the 1970’s.

No new commissioner in the CFL until the spring? They have had four months and they have not completed a candidate list yet? The club-owner members of the CFL really must not have a clue, thinking they do not need a commissioner. For some reason I see them all calculating their team’s share of the commissioner’s salary saved for 4-6 months.

Despite the issues facing the CFL, there is no crisis says Damien Cox. That may be, but screw up one or more of the things facing the league and it could be a ten-year step back. The CFL will never be able to rest and say the work is finally done. They will always be fighting for their share of attention, for fans in the stands and amongst themselves.

Despite the affect it was to have on Grey Cup ticket sales, I am glad Winnipeg lost the East Semi-Final. The Grey Cup was meant to be played between East and West. The CFL would not have liked the Grey Cup TV ratings dip had Winnipeg faced off against a Western team, since only ten people East of Thunder Bay would be watching. Winnipeg may still qualify in the East in an eight-team league next year, which could really hurt the Grey Cup in Toronto. Here is hoping for a shake-up in the playoff qualifying teams next year, with Hamilton and Toronto qualifying to build interest for the Grey Cup game.

NHL is Dead to Me

I am finding it hard to get back up to speed with the NHL this year. I do not know where all the players have moved yet; I am not interested in watching a game at all. After a bounce back following the lockout, it looks like casual fans like me cannot hold an interest even with the new rules. This cannot bode well for the NHL considering its position in the US.

5 Responses to “Notebook – November 6, 2006”

  1. Bill Says:

    what’s the 100% of 60% thing?

  2. Bill Says:

    The Riders lost the title – The Alouettes are the new bad boys of the CFL! Assaulting police, obstructing justice, tinted windows, failing to signal before turning:
    http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/news_story/?ID=183276&hubname=cfl

  3. Bill Says:

    Burris to Hamilton for Jason Maas!
    Well just guessing :)

    Hamilton had McManus (and Maas this year) so they’re used to interceptions :)

    “As for Burris, not even Higgins could give him a rousing endorsement.
    ‘Right now Henry Burris is our number one quarterback until such a time we see a better option,’ he said.”
    http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/CFL/Winnipeg/2006/11/07/2265105-sun.html
    http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/CFL/Calgary/2006/11/07/2265159-sun.html

  4. Jon Says:

    Bill: I never saw the whole thing, but he says something like “not 100% of 100%, but 100% of 60%, which is still 100%”. They showed it at the start of the Sportsnet News all weekend. I guess Ricky got into it with a reporter last week at practice and it made the second news (not sports) item on the local news. I don’t know where this Sportsnet interview fits into it all.

    Williams even more strongly hinted at playing in Canada next year. I think he wants to, he just needs Miami to say, “We don’t want you.” so he can get out of his llegal obligation of 2 more years. Based on all the comments from the US, he knows he will have a tough time with media and fans in the NFL, as he is labeled as a pothead, drug user and that won’t change no matter what he does.

  5. Bill Says:

    hahaha! that ricky interview was awesome!
    I’d hate to be someone who has to interview ricky williams and try to get him to answer something.

    “oh crap – i have to interview ricky and ask him if he’s excited to be in the playoffs” or whatever. haha!

    that’s cool – about time there’s a player like that to really spin things around. I don’t think you’re going to hear too many sports cliches from him :)
    I think he got the reporter to answer more questions than ricky himself answered :)

OC Jottings

No jottings in the last 7 days. Here is a random jotting.