SBD/Issue 49/Sports Media

Sunday's Grey Cup Moves TSN Closer To The CBC For Sports In Canada

Sunday's broadcast of the Grey Cup, which matches the Calgary Stampeders against the Montreal Alouettes at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, will rank as the "biggest and most important event that TSN has covered" and will "confirm TSN as the dominant sports cable channel" in Canada, according to William Houston of the GLOBE & MAIL. The game marks the net's first Grey Cup broadcast and may move TSN "closer to the CBC as a leading carrier of high-end sports programming." However, there "might be some anxiety as well," as "nobody is really sure how well TSN will do with viewership." Houston notes the two teams are "not a strong matchup for English-language television," and wonders if the audience will be "comparable to what the CBC produced over the years." The CBC drew audiences of "more than three million" for its coverage of the Grey Cup in past years, and it "helped a great deal that it was available in 13 million Canadian households." But TSN reaches "only nine million homes" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/17). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jennifer Wells notes TSN has "sold out all of the game's commercial time, which runs to 12 minutes an hour for a minimum three hours." TSN President Phil King would not comment on ad rates generally nor say what last-minute spots sold for, but Wells notes it "could be that the total dollar tally this year surpasses that of the CBC." The CBC last year "charged anywhere from [C$45,000-65,000] for a 30-second spot." CFL Senior VP/Marketing & Commercial Assets Rob Assimakopoulos "believes the current economic malaise has favoured the league" in promoting the Grey Cup. Assimakopoulos: "In times of crisis people tend to gravitate toward authentic, familiar, tried-and-true brands, and what we're finding is there's a sentiment favouring the [CFL] because of its longevity, because of its familiarity" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/21).

LACKING BUZZ: The GLOBE & MAIL's Houston reports the media contingent covering the Grey Cup "will be the smallest in years." Editors and reporters said that the decisions not to send staff to cover the game "were based strictly on the economic downturn and the financial problems bedevilling newspapers." Vancouver Province sports editor Jonathan McDonald: "It was hard for me to disagree with the decision. I think that about 550 people at (Province owner) Canwest are going to lose their jobs in the next little while. I'd sound really pathetic if I thought it was all about us" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/21). The CP's Andy Blatchford reported even with the hometown Alouettes in the Grey Cup, Montreal's most popular daily, Le Journal de Montreal, featured "only six pages" of CFL news Thursday. Instead, the Canadiens are "dominating the city's newspapers," as the first 10 pages of the sports section Thursday focused on the Canadiens and Saturday night's Bruins-Canadiens game, at which Hockey HOFer Patrick Roy's jersey will be retired (CP, 11/20).

RATINGS NOTES: The GLOBE & MAIL's Houston reported TSN drew 716,000 viewers for last Saturday's Alouettes-Eskimos East Division Final at 1:00pm ET, down 33% from 1.066 million viewers for the CBC's coverage of the Blue Bombers-Argonauts East Division Final last year. TSN drew 1.045 million viewers for last Saturday's Stampeders-Lions West Division Final at 4:30pm, down 34% from 1.571 million viewers for the CBC's coverage of Roughriders-Lions last year. French-language net RDS drew 516,000 viewers for Alouettes-Eskimos, up 319.5% from 123,000 viewers in '07 (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18).

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