CFL Commissioner Cohon Hopes ESPN TV Deal Helps League Expand U.S. Audience
The CFL would "love to take its new broadcasting agreement with ESPN and turn it into something even bigger down the road," and that is the reason why the league "entered into an exclusive, multi-year deal" with the net in the U.S. last month, according to Kirk Penton of the WINNIPEG SUN. CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon said, "What we are looking at is something that gives us great exposure, and what we hope for after a four- or five-year period is that we’ll be able to really build an audience with ESPN and build a U.S. audience.” Penton notes last year, the net "aired six games on ESPN2 and another package of contests" online at ESPN3. Cohon noted ESPN2 averaged around 300,000 viewers per game in the U.S. and the net was "happy with the results." ESPN Manager of Programming & Acquisitions Gregg Morriss said, “It was more kind of an experiment to see how they would do, and they met those expectations. Now, with a little more consistency and having more ability to do more games, working directly with the league, we see some upside there.” Cohon said, “I’m not saying that we can get to an MLS-style [$90M] deal, but if you look at Major League Soccer, they had similar sized audiences." Cohon noted that the ESPN deal is "netting the league only six figures." But the fact that "every game can be seen on one network is likely the best news for the CFL" (WINNIPEG SUN, 7/23).