TSN pre-season broadcast schedule features just four games. Again.

The CFL and TSN have announced their 2018 pre-season broadcast schedule and it is, once again, disappointingly limited.

While TSN broadcasts every regular season and playoff game, they will show just four of the nine pre-season games. They are as follows:

Sun., May 27, 5 p.m. EST: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Eskimos
Thur., May 31 7:30 p.m. EST: Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa Redblacks
Fri., June 1,  7:30 p.m. EST: Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Fri., June 8, 10:30 p.m. EST: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at B.C. Lions

Rider fans will be happy as they will get the opportunity to see the road game in Edmonton and go to the home one against Calgary on June 8. Broadcasting the Ticats game doesn’t make a ton of sense, given that they’ve streamed their game online the last two years. Winnipeg gets a game this year, after being shut out last season, while Calgary fans miss out in 2018.

While there are costs involved and its unlikely pre-season CFL action will be a ratings juggernaut for TSN (particularly when it has to go up against the NHL playoffs) it would still be nice to see every pre-season game. Exhibition football is not as enjoyable to watch as a regular season football but it is still football. Right now, roughly halfway through the CFL’s interminable off-season, watching no-name schlubs battling it out for a $500-a-week practice roster spot sounds pretty darn good.


Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1553 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

75 Comments on TSN pre-season broadcast schedule features just four games. Again.

  1. Superfan Mike // March 8, 2018 at 6:40 pm //

    Anyone remember what the numbers were like for the pre-season games last year? With 5 channels (I know, I know… time-shifting), surely TSN 2 or whatever could work for the other 4 games. Hell, patch in the local radio broadcast for the home team for the play by play. Right now we’d all watch anything CFL related!

    • True Green // March 8, 2018 at 9:48 pm //

      right now I’d watch Bo Levi and Duron Carter play Texas hold ‘em heads up

    • John Davis // March 8, 2018 at 11:31 pm //

      If you don’t like watching CFL pre-season games – don’t watch them. If you don’t CFL football at all don’t watch it. As for why you’re posting to only be critical of one or both of those I cant fathom. If you are bored try darts but don’t take up space on a CFL and BC Lions support page.

    • Cal Gary Shampeders // March 9, 2018 at 1:19 pm //

      Anyone who reads this site this time of year would watch televised practices. Of course we want the preseason televised.

    • Schlepper // March 12, 2018 at 9:21 am //

      Why not off the other games to a local broadcaster to show or maybe offer it streamline only? It’s the way of the future anyways…..

  2. I hope each home club will stream the game when it’s not on TSN at least

    • To my knowledge the Ticats are the only team who have actually done that for about the past three seasons at least so I wouldn’t hold my breath on that but it sure would be nice. Any fan could log on to a team’s website to view the game. Last year the Ticats road preseason game was broadcast and for the first time I could watch both their preseason games (home game shown online). I kinda wish TSN wasn’t showing their home game this year but rather their road game (in Ottawa I think) again. I will say that at least all teams are being broadcast with one exception. I remember a couple of years when at least 2 or three teams were totally shut out of the preseason.

  3. How bored must a person be to watch an exhibition game in any sport……surely there must be better things to do, no?

    • For sure!
      You can watch darts on 4-5 sports channels instead.

      • B.C. Dave // March 8, 2018 at 8:14 pm //

        Don’t forget golf. Fun to watch a guy hit the ball for 5 seconds and ten watch him walk to the next hole for 5 minutes.

        Curling is always fun if your wife is out of town. You might miss watching her sweep the floor so you can still catch it on TSN. Still don’t get why they don’t just clean it properly before they play. Then they would not have to keep doing it WHILE they play.

    • B.C. Dave // March 8, 2018 at 8:15 pm //

      You for real??? I spend six months reading about the guys we are bringing in so it is fun to finally see them play. And because they are fighting for jobs, the competition id fierce !!

    • I like watching the young qbs

    • judging by the ratings from last season, very few watch pre-season. It’s a huge investment for TSN to set up their equipment for a live broadcast, I understand why they only broadcast 4 games.

    • Paul Bomber // March 11, 2018 at 10:08 am //

      I dunno, how bored must a person be to comment on a story, the subject matter of which they obviously don’t care about?

  4. This league needs all the exposure they can!!
    TSN needs to promote these games!
    Something like the NFL!

  5. Every team has an in-stadium broadcast production and all they need to do is livestream that with radio on top like the Ticats do. Costs almost nothing, especially compared to TSN. Not sure why it doesn’t happen.

    • Yes that is what should happen. More people have the internet than TSN, so it makes sense for teams to stream their game. Everyone gets to see it not just TSN subscribers.
      The CFL may actually get millenials that stream everything to watch it, not just the old baby boomers that only watch on TV.

  6. Superfan Mike // March 8, 2018 at 7:15 pm //

    This is an interesting post from last year on this site about this very topic.


  7. More important to me is who will be on the TSN panel for the season. Is Chris Shultz back?

  8. CFLFAN1 // March 8, 2018 at 8:04 pm //

    CFL Exhibition games on TSN draw 200k to 300k viewers and more…way higher than Whitecaps or TFC regular season games, for example (and higher than most NHL regional games on SN/TSN). So why wouldn’t TSN want to broadcast more CFL games?

    One factor is Exhibition games can sometimes be fairly ragged, with many penalties as new players are learning new rules. Sometimes games can be very exciting with desperate players going all out with what might be their last chance to play in a high-level football game.

    • Hardly a good comparison. The majority of CFL viewers are over 50 and TSN doesn’t sell much air time to advertisers. TFC soccer viewers are millenials and that is the audience that advertisers are after. Plus the fact that many millenials watch streaming games that are available on the internet and not counted as ratings.
      Out of 300k watching a CFL TV broadcast only around 50k are under 50.
      Out of 150k TFC viewers ALL are under 50 and that is where the advertisers put their money.
      MLS ratings are trending up, CFL ratings trending down

      • Cite the source for your stats or they’re fake news.

      • Ya – and us over 50 old farts don’t spend 6.50 on a cup of Starbucks or post our life story for the world to see on social media either. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t stand watching soccer players take dives constantly for more than about 30 seconds. Oh well….time to take my vitamins and watch Matlock 🙂

  9. Tsn schedule dissapointing ….league needs to do something about this when contract expires . Being from hamilton why can’t chch pick up the home pre season game?

    • What do they do?
      What if TSN are the only bidders for CFL games?
      By the time the contract is renewed, million of Canadians will have cut the cord and will be “Streaming” on the internet.
      Young people watch programming on their tablets/IPhones etc

  10. Colour me green // March 8, 2018 at 8:43 pm //

    Love the exhibition games, get to see QBs that won’t play typically in Regular season. It’s all good exposure.

    • Dan Bombers // March 8, 2018 at 8:55 pm //

      Me too Green you never know when one guy will step up and take a veterans job

      • Pretty sure my grandma’s Labradoodle has a better chance of taking the Alouettes starting job. Not because we have such a great starting quarterback and so there’s no competition, no. Simply because our GM is so bad that despite there being ZERO legitimate CFL quarterback in Montreal, Reed still hasn’t brought any decent QB talent to compete for the job.
        How long will Montreal fans tolerate this nonsense is anyone’s guess, but it looks like another 3-15 season or worse.

        • The Gazette should hold a competition: who can say anything positive about this Montreal Alouettes season? The winner will probably mention nothing but the weather: 9 severe weather events in a row should do the job.

  11. Blue rules // March 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm //

    TSN should charge a SMALL fee to allow local TV to show the games.

    • I like the idea, but there is no way a SMALL fee would pay the production costs.

      • Blue rules // March 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm //

        It use to happen before TSN took over!!….CBC allowed local tv (CKND if I recall) to show games that were not scheduled, could not show blacked out though. Currently you can see some University, high school as well community center games on local TV. BTW production is poor but better than nothing, keep in mind the games not shown on TSN still have camera crews filming the game.

    • As someone said above: just stream the games, most teams do this. You don’t need the TSN play-by-play guys and the HD production team.
      The problem with pre-season is that veterans don’t play and we know that most of the players will be gone and the games are penalty filled and disorganized

  12. One of my favorites in preseason is watching a rookie kick returner, who doesn’t really know our game, signal for a fair catch 🙂

  13. Brutal, I’ve said it before and will say it again. The CFL got screwed with the TV deal. They undervalued the property which impacts salaries and then TSN serves up 4 preseason games and will basically give it some play 1 week before the season begins…Brutal.

    • Leo Lewis // March 8, 2018 at 10:32 pm //

      Undervalued? TSN pays the CFL approximately $40 million per season. Considering that this is about 2.5 times the previous contract of $15 million per season, I’m at a loss to see how the CFL got screwed with this TV deal. Given the TV ratings decline in recent seasons, the CFL will be lucky to duplicate the current deal when it expires after the upcoming season.

  14. Drboom2000 // March 8, 2018 at 11:36 pm //

    I would love to to see johnny assclown. Oh wait I just threw up never mind

  15. It’s pre season football. No big deal.

  16. Edward Leslie // March 9, 2018 at 2:05 am //

    I just understand the modern way of telecasts.
    They brag about multiple platforms and various channels, right? Well then you look and they can’t ne bothered to show the pre season game, or the entire CFL draft on ANY of those channels. Yet how often do you see the exact same game shown on two, three or four of the same channels at the same time!
    I would expect multiple TSN channels would mean multiple OPTIONS. Why not just go back to ine channel for TSN, one channel for Sportsnet, one channel for every network??? This only gives a false impression of “Lots of things to watch”, but is just lots of channel clutter.

  17. CFL lover // March 9, 2018 at 4:25 am //

    I was informed recently by a member of the Williamsport little league World Series welcoming committee that the LLWS organisation receive approximately $9 Million a year from ESPN for the annual broadcast rights. While I can’t vouch for it’s absolute accuracy if these numbers are factual this is a tournament consisting of 12 and 13 year olds played over a ten day period in late August. Now my question. Anyone know how much the CFL gets from ESPN for their exclusive broadcast rights for all the games they carry down south over the summer months ? and assuming this info is true, does the $40 odd Million (Canadian) TSN offers our league to carry the entire CFL season exclusively on their various platforms sound reasonable to anyone out there ? Nine teams, 18 game season + playoffs over a six month period. I’m just a dumb bunny fan who watches anything they throw at me but somehow I can’t help but think the league is getting fleeced here. Course like I said I’m just a dumb bunny….

    • Excellent question. If the CFL adds a 10th franchise and increases franchise values for all…..the tv/money will follow. Sadly I think it would require a reduction in the cancon among other changes….lots of understandable resistance to that….even though ironically I think it would be best for the game and Canadian players….let’s face it talent rules regardless of your geographic origins…..more and more excellent Canadians in the NFL every year…..proof enough for me.
      Owning a pro football team is a prestige purchase for these $m and $b naires…..CFL cool/prestige factor needs to rise to attract these big money folks.

      • Can’t see why a 10th franchise would increase values for all.
        TV money would be split 10 ways not 9. TV broadcasts are not the future. More young people stream their programs.
        Every year they are losing close to 1 million viewers who are cutting the cord.
        Why subscribe to satellite/cable when you are already paying for the internet and more programs are now on the internet.
        By 2022 there will be millions more without a TV subscription.

        I agree with the Canadian ratio being cut, I can’t imagine 10 teams trying to fill rosters with quality Canadian players.
        Most teams have had roster problems since Ottawa joined the league and more Canadians in the league

    • wewert3 // March 9, 2018 at 1:53 pm //

      2017 LLWS championship drew 2.6 million viewers on ABC.

      2017 Grey Cup drew 237,000 viewers on ESPN2.

      Grey Cup last year was the 150th ranked original cable program of the DAY in the US. That number might even be inflated because the Grey Cup went long and some viewers were waiting for a college basketball game. Can’t really see the CFL getting much of anything from ESPN other than exposure in America.

      • CFL lover // March 9, 2018 at 3:19 pm //

        My point was little league in a one off one week deal, ESPN broadcast at least a dozen CFL games either on ESPN 2 or 3 (streaming) over the summer months when football & hoops both college & pro (even hockey) are shut down. I watched games in Philly and DC and I can assure you those i saw were well appreciated. People actually knew some of the US players from their college days in the US. Canadian football is also applauded for it’s wide open style. I felt no derision whatsoever. It’s a great product poorly marketed as far as I’m concerned.

        • Bloodshed // March 13, 2018 at 6:30 am //

          I couldn’t agree more. The CFL has a really good product (certainly some tweaks need to be done rule-wise to make it great, IMO) but one of its flaws is that it’s poorly marketed; not only in Canada but in the States too. This league is too cold-feet when it comes to trying new rules or regulations out, just to see how things will go and they’re too hung up on keeping things as the way they are. My point is that EVERY business needs growth, and not slow growth but a fast one. If you grow fast, people start to recognize, pay attention and they start to follow you (even more). I applaud all the precautions, the talk, the openness the league is having with a new franchise in the Maritimes, but man this was a long time coming! For as long as I’ve known the league I wanted it to have a tenth Canadian team. Talks and precautions are good but it’s taking way too long. This issue is way overdue. Business-wise when you aren’t afraid to take swift calculated risks that seemingly will pay off well, it attracts other people to invest and to have an interest in making it grow as wide as possible. Hence, that’s why I believe the league should put that ratio rule in the trash can but keep that idea and come back with it as a financial incentive to teams who employ Canadian players and a bigger incentive if these Canadian players are starters or get promoted to that rank. And by the way, let’s not fool ourselves, as much as we like the CFL, the same seats are empty year after year, the Commissioner and the owners still complain about it but nothing really changes. If the CFL wants to thrive and not just survive, it has to once again seduce the American market, but this time, they would have to do the same meetings they’re doing now (for the potential team in Halifax) and be open to rule changes from American investors. I’m not advocating for the game to be completely changed in terms of structure and rules but you can’t stick your head in the sand and hope that millenials and all the uninterested ones that don’t follow the CFL here and in the U.S. will magically start doing so by keeping things as they are. Sincerely what I hate about the commissioner’s job is that most that he does is listen and discuss (and that’s great and all) but there’s no real power involved. He can’t take (some) real big decisions; he has to speak to the owners and the board of governors and maybe even to the CFLPA to implement a new regulation. I don’t hate or dislike Randy Ambrosie, I commend him for being so available and open to fans – but I love the league and I want it to grow fast, so the players get paid real money (some high profile ones get close to 100 to 250k, but compared to the other major sports, that’s chump change and if we would like to be more respected, it’s time we stepped our game up, pun intended) and if the fans here don’t want to get in the stands, let the league try to get new ones south of the border that are willing to make that commitment to fill the stadiums up at every game days; that’ll perhaps give the ones here a sense of pride for them to support their team like they should be.

  18. Hope for new blood in the announcing of the telecasts of the Ames this season

  19. The TV contract expires in 2021 I believe.
    TV ratings are down, yes they may be slightly up last season from 2016 but during the past 5 years the ratings are down from 850k to 520k
    Viewers are older.
    Don’t expect a big contract in 2022

    • Attendance is down too. Last season there was a slight spike caused by the new stadium in Sask.
      But attendance down in BC, Montreal and Toronto.
      No change in Edm, Winn or Calgary where the CFL remains popular.
      The CFL has to address the issues of attendance and TV ratings.
      There won’t be an increase in the TV contract that’s for sure. TV ratings are only important if there are young people watching. If your TV audience is older, advertisers won’t buy in, the older crowd is not influenced by advertising the same way the young crowd is.
      Why do you think the beer ads show young good looking people. Same with the soda ads

      • Yet the CFL keeps talking about expansion to Halifax??
        If it ever happened we would be talking about BMO sized crowds of around 13k and another team taking a slice of the TV revenue.

        • Jim also subsidies. I believe the teams with the most revenue for attendance pay a percentage of revenues to the teams with smallest attendance. Someone on here would know the particulars

      • I have been saying Manziel is money a cash cow. How do you get attendance up is Johnny football. How do you ensure TSN and ESPN revenue stream is growing — Manziel. How do you get the most people in Canada and USA ever to watch a Hamilton preseason game with the most hype ever in preseason game is Johnny Manziel. There will be more sports broadcaster coverage ever in CFL with Manziel. He brings millions to CFL just as he did to Texas A&M and boast NCAA. Football. However not sure if he is coming now. Here is hoping for the CFL

        • Blue rules // March 9, 2018 at 10:10 am //

          Is Manziel your brother??? Let it go already! No one person, especially a criminal is that valuable. The increase in viewership would be short lived (mostly tune in to watch him get nailed) long term damage would last for years. He is a criminal, the assault is real, the charges were dropped.

          • You contradicted yourself when you say most will watch to see him get hit. That is my point. Most will watch to see what he is all about and to see if their team can beat him and his team. I am a business analyst. There is not a team in cfl that does not believe Johnny Manziel will be good for cfl including TSN sports who benefit.

          • Blue rules // March 9, 2018 at 1:37 pm //

            John 2, no contradiction at all, I never said there wouldn’t be a increase! I did say however “the increase in viewership would be short lived” I also said “the long term damage would last for years” if you are a business analysis you should be able to understand the printed words/sentences. Canadian football/rugby has been around beyond 100 years. You think a controversial player who may last 2 Years will have a positive outcome on the totality of a league who is actively supporting woman’s rights against violence to woman, a player who will attract negative attention continuously?? If so you should send your comments to your training facility, I’m sure you’ll receive a full refund. To your second point, that is simply your made-up opinion, have you spoken to TSN and all 9 teams GM? Do you really want/expect me or anyone would believe that TSN & all 9 team’s GM’s or spokesperson would trust you “John 2” with their opinions. Sorry my friend, not only what you said is just your opinion, you also succeeded in making yourself look really dumb, have a great day

          • Blue rules. Great to see your comment. I can see you Do not have any business accumen. So lets follow Johnny Manziel duel in the states or in Canada and one of us will have to appologize I if facts prove either of us wrong. I will do it but will you. Let’s see where this all goes.

          • Approximately 87% of people (completely made up stat) who CLAIM professional status of ANY kind in an anonymous online forum are lying pathetic losers who probably didn’t even finish high school.

            How many of you know a teacher/doctor/scientist or in this case “business analyst” who may have spent years learning their profession only to wield it as a club to beat some anonymous commentator over the head with it?

            Either said “professional” is no such thing, or they’re REALLY incompetent and among the worst at their profession.

            Stands to reason, and I’m shocked nobody ever calls folks out for this d*ck move that seems to happen all the time.

          • Steve J. // March 11, 2018 at 1:50 pm //

            I totally agree with you, Blue. Manziel is bad news. I’m don’t see John or his alter ego, John2, citing any reliable sources on their generic predictions. If they can explain to me why 31 other NFL teams took a pass on him, or why 8 other CFL teams haven’t been clambering to trade for this clown, I’d be satisfied. The Texas Spring League? Are you serious? The only way I would pay money to see this ass play would be to see him get a one way ticket to the Emergency room.

          • Nostredummass. You apparently like to character assassinate many people who have an option.

            All I have been saying is Johnny Manziel coming to the CFL is a cash cow. We may be on the same page so let’s try something basic attendance revenue only.
            I will use a team you like. Montreal. With the attendance they had in 2016 and assuming that Manziel IF he comes to Canada is traded to Montreal do you believe there will be an increase In gate revenue. If so assuming he has a 2 year contract which includes option year estimate the additional revenue for Montreal. Staying on revenue what do you see as additional revenue to all the attendance when Montreal is on the road. You know the Toronto and BC problems with ticket sales plus others that are not selling out. I think we may be on the same page here in that Manziel may translate into millions in the area of attendance revenue alone over 2 years Leaving the most potential media revenue aside

          • Add on to nostredummass. Meant 2017 attendance. Also there are some deeply negative people on this site who are making a mockery of mental illness. Johnny Manziel is bipolar and taking medication and it was well explained that it was the cause of his off field issues

            That is berating of someone trying to get back Into football which serves as a beacon of hope for others who have same conditions

          • Steve J. // March 11, 2018 at 7:04 pm //

            John2, why don’t you try doing a little math. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were 2nd in the CFL in 2017 with an average 97.6% capacity. The BEST Manziel could do would be to increase total ticket sales by another 1%, around 500 tickets, TOTAL, for the season. At an average THF ticket price of around $50, that’s a paltry $25,000. Heck, let’s DOUBLE that average ticket price: $50,000. Wow! Better call Price Waterhouse.

            Average League attendance was 24,644 (77.9%) Let’s say a jackass like Manziel can raise attendance on the road by an astounding 10% (2,464 per game @ $50 a ticket) over nine Hamilton road games. That’s, wait for it, $123,220. Hey, let’s double that again to $260,000…TOTAL. Well, Hallelujah, the saviour has arrived. I don’t know what the League will do with all that cash.

            If you don’t like my math, do it yourself. It’s all on the CFL Database. Knock yourself out.

  20. The mere mention of pro football…..or at least the beginning of the process of football has me at half mast!
    I am so stir crazy for football right now I almost paid for an Internet subscription to watch arena football……HELP!

    • I do like the idea of games staring in May!!
      Like the idea of streaming by teams, we don’t need the TSN crew.

      • I’m 100% on board with the idea of pre-season streaming, either by teams or whoever wishes to broadcast them (local community channels, for instance). While I don’t expect TSN to air all or even some of those games, considering that they’re not going to draw all that many viewers, it’d be nice to see the teams do something to at least give us some options; don’t necessarily need commentators or even great visual quality (I’m fine with low-budget), and they could run ads to recoup some of the costs. Hell, even a webcam or two would suffice 🙂 On the plus side, at least my Bombers will be on this year after missing the year prior.

  21. Never thought I would like preseason, but I did . Bring it on.

  22. Green&Gold // March 9, 2018 at 9:40 am //

    The redheaded sandwich artist on Big Brother looks familiar

  23. Jim MacKenzie // March 9, 2018 at 12:07 pm //

    EDT not EST. Standard time ends this weekend except in Saskatchewan.

  24. I think it’s awesome that there are fewer pre-season games. Any reason to keep Rod Black off the air is good for the CFL, good for TSN, and frankly good for humanity in general.

    Glibness aside, I turn off every CFL broadcast with either Rod Black or Matt Dunigan in the booth and I will continue to do so this year. Until TSN takes the quality of their CFL product seriously, I have no interest in propping up the ratings. TSN makes the CFL look bush league and that’s amplified in the preseason. Not showing pre-season games makes the CFL look better as a product, and that’s a good thing.

    • Dude. While I appreciated Rod Black for the years he served as my favourite drinking game (Black says something dumb, down a beer), the major beneficiary of keeping “Rod Black off the air” is my liver. And my liver agrees with every glib thing you had to say.
      It just wishes I didn’t have to do math first thing in the morning for ME to respond.

  25. wewert3 // March 9, 2018 at 2:11 pm //

    Edwards conveniently omits that 3 of the remaining games overlap with a game that TSN is airing. The other non-broadcast game is an early Saturday game.

    That being said, showing more practice games with players who won’t even be on the active roster come opening day is not a way to showcase your product to attract more viewers.

  26. 4 pre-season games are fine. Ratings are low for these games as half the players won’t be around in a few weeks. Same with NFL, only the real dedicated watch pre-season on TV, half the stands are even empty.

  27. It’d be far better to do more shows on TC’s across the CFL than show all exhibition games. Fans who buy tickets don’t even go!!!!

  28. Rather Be In Hell // March 10, 2018 at 8:28 pm //

    It’s too expensive is always their reasoning. But TSN will dedicate 8 hours of coverage, with all their top paid NHL pundits and every anchor/personality on their staff, just staring at their phones, talking about nothing.

  29. Paul Bomber // March 11, 2018 at 10:11 am //

    I think the CFL is a sucker for giving everything to tsn. They operate at a low level, and for a league struggling for relevance in some parts of the country, they are the wrong partner.

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