The CFL ratings report: bring on the live mics

As we first reported on 3Down a week ago, the CFL and TSN are drastically expanding their line up of live mic games for the 2018 season, starting with Friday’s contest between Hamilton and Winnipeg.

After starting with four live mic games in 2016 – none last season – there will be one a week for the remainder of the rest of this season (a full list of the live mic games is below.) TSN is also using the “ref cam” for one game a week, starting with Saturday’s contest between the Riders and the Alouettes.

While some players and coaches balked at the live mics – we’re looking at you Jason Maas – TSN continued to press the issue because, according to their internal numbers, the games saw a ratings bump of about 10 per cent over a typical game. Given the challenges facing all broadcasters surrounding cable cutting – and the potential impact on the value of league broadcast rights – it’s hardly surprising that TSN wants to take advantage of any chance to enhance the numbers. With the TSN deal with the CFL set to expire after the 2021 season – worth a reported $40-million per year – there’s plenty of incentive for the league, the CFLPA and even Maas to play along.

Last week saw mixed rating numbers for TSN. Thursday’s game between the Ottawa Redblacks and – guess who? – the Saskatchewan Roughriders posted a solid average audience of 568,200 but the early Friday contest between Winnipeg and Montreal drew a disappointing 401,100. The Alouettes’ English-language ratings have sagged as the team has struggled and while the Bombers are typically a good draw, the 56-10 scoreline likely had folks reaching for their remotes early.

Indeed, a week full of blowouts – the average margin of victory was 30 points – likely didn’t help. The Friday late game between Hamilton and Edmonton, which was competitive into the late stages of the second half, drew 495,900 while Calgary’s beatdown of Toronto posted 504,600.

The 492,450 four-game average was down two per cent from Week 2 last season, though a strong opening slate of games still has the CFL ahead of last year’s numbers to the tune of almost five per cent.

You don’t need a live mic to know that sounds pretty good so far.

Here’s a full list of the live mic games:

• Friday, June 29 at 7 p.m. ET – Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
• Friday, July 6 at 7 p.m. ET – Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes
• Friday, July 13 at 8:30 p.m. ET – Toronto Argonauts at Edmonton Eskimos
• Saturday, July 21 at 9 p.m. ET – Montreal Alouettes at Calgary Stampeders
• Friday, July 27 at 8 pm. ET – Toronto Argonauts at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
• Thursday, August 2 at 10 p.m. ET – Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Eskimos
• Thursday, August 9 at 9:30 p.m. ET – Edmonton Eskimos at BC Lions
• Sunday, August 19 at 7 p.m. ET – Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders
• Saturday, August 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET – Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders
• Friday, August 31 at 7 p.m. ET – Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa Redblacks
• Friday, September 7 at 10 p.m. ET – Ottawa Redblacks at BC Lions
• Friday, September 14 at 7 p.m. ET – BC Lions at Montreal Alouettes
• Saturday, September 22 at 7 p.m. ET – Saskatchewan Roughriders at Toronto Argonauts
• Saturday, September 29 at 4 p.m. ET – BC Lions at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
• Monday, October 8 at 4 p.m. ET – Edmonton Eskimos at Saskatchewan Roughriders
• Friday, October 12 at 7 p.m. ET – Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts
• Friday, October 19 at 7 pm. ET – Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa Redblacks
• Friday, October 26 at 8 p.m. ET – Calgary Stampeders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The ref cam games announced so far:

• Saturday, June 30 at 9 p.m. ET – Montreal Alouettes at Saskatchewan Roughriders
• Saturday, July 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET – BC Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
• Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m. ET – Calgary Stampeders at Ottawa Redblacks
• Saturday, July 21 at 4 p.m. ET – Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Toronto Argonauts
• Saturday, July 28 at 4 p.m. ET – Ottawa Redblacks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats

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 (1550 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.

34 Comments on The CFL ratings report: bring on the live mics

  1. “Ref Cam”… sounds like a recipe for referee abuse… if they blow a call the fans will be all over them… LOL this could be fun…

  2. TicatTO // June 28, 2018 at 3:26 pm //

    A silly gimmick along with Rod Blacks occasional over the top comments about individual players. Why can’t they simply call a game without all superfluous nonsense. Old person talking:-)

    • Paul Bomber // June 28, 2018 at 4:17 pm //

      Another old person chiming in! The live mic does nothing for me, but it doesn’t generally offend me. But as for rod black, I can’t understand how one guy can say so many dumb things. It’s truly mind boggling! AND Wpg gets him for EVERY game except when we play Toronto it seems. I guess they figured Wpg and other Western fans will suck it up and listen to a figure skating commentator.

      • Yet another old person here…….what are we talking about again ?

      • riderontheisland // June 28, 2018 at 5:16 pm //

        Not quite old… my books, but I’m okay with the mic. Rob Black on the other hand is a lot to take. Instead of airlines losing bags could they just misplace Black and Suitor for the rest of my lifetime. Black is annoying by saying stupid things, but Suitor says things that everyone (including him) knows is total BS and then he will waste the next 5 minutes feeding more outrageous BS to try and validate he earlier crap. In the meantime the game rolls on with commentary. Can’t stand that man.

    • rdavies // June 28, 2018 at 4:38 pm //

      It’s all about trying to get the millenials on-board.
      Increased ratings mean nothing unless they can get the young people to watch.
      Advertisers don’t care about the older people watching, they know that the over 50s are not influenced by ads.
      The CFL’s big problem, decent ratings but most watching are older.
      Another problem is that lack of viewers in the Toronto area. As the Star reported last week only 175k out of the 600k were from Ontario and less than a quarter of the 175k were in Toronto.
      The league needs to get the young people watching.

    • Nevermind Old person talking Ticat TO… your comments are bang on!!

  3. Leo Lewis // June 28, 2018 at 3:37 pm //

    For me, the live mic issue is a mixed bag.

    The sideline conversations were interesting. They showed coaches like Rick Campbell and Dave Dickenson to be thinking of strategic moves two or three plays in advance. These conversations also showed a player like Rakeem Cato not to have the mental capacity or leadership skills to run a pro offense.

    On the flip side, the live mic in the huddle was annoying. To the viewer, a quarterback’s play calls are unitelligible gibberish that distract from the enjoyment of the game.

    Live mic on the sideline…. thumbs up. Live mic in the huddle…. thumbs down.

    • The sideline conversations were good… I learned a lot – even after a play that either went well or went flat. You could get some feedback on how the coaches felt.

      The huddle… well that’s just for fun and meant to give a ‘feel’ for the game atmosphere. Good on the league and TSN for being innovative.

      Also, Advertisers care about baby boomers… a lot!! They are affluent and are at a point to enjoy better things in life like new trucks, cars and chainsaws… they have a lot of wealth. Millennials are a longer term investment for advertisers, and millennials influence the market trends as they are a large demographic.

  4. I look forward to a lot of heavy breathing, grunting and beeped out profanity.

  5. Prove me wrong // June 28, 2018 at 3:50 pm //

    I liked the ref cam. You get a lot of ref player interactions shown.

    • Last time I saw the ref cam, I got dizzy and fell off the couch.

      And now because it’s 2018, I’m going to sue TSN and the CFL for my injuries. The firm representing the BC streaker has already called twice.

  6. The pace of the games on tv has improved dramatically this year.

  7. TicatTO // June 28, 2018 at 4:51 pm //

    I get the need to attract a younger demographic but why live mics and Rod Black prattling along all game.
    I would question the quality of TSN audience data. BTW Get off my lawn!

  8. Paul Bomber // June 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm //

    A “grumpy old man” theme on a cfl forum….. Randy A isn’t going to like this.

  9. The biggest thing missing from the 2016 live mic games was someone who understood the terminology of the individual teams. I remember Collaros hollering out an amazing string of commands, and no one understood them (including those in the booth). Could be interesting with a translation.

  10. Dundas dude // June 28, 2018 at 6:19 pm //

    I’m generally indifferent to these mic’s, but anything that irritates Jason Maas couldn’t be all bad

  11. MR. Green // June 28, 2018 at 6:34 pm //

    I scrolled ahead and I know TSN only does some pregame shows. I see they aren’t televising a pregame show Saturday for the Humboldt Strong game. I hope they change it, I think some fans who cannot attend or watching afar would watch. ceremonies are suppose to start about 6:45, were suppose to be in our seats by then. We will see if they change it.

  12. Steve J. // June 28, 2018 at 7:20 pm //

    Hate it!

  13. True Blue // June 28, 2018 at 7:32 pm //

    Not old, but not young either…is 46 old?? I love the idea of the live mic games, mic’d up, ref cams and to be honest any innovative idea that’s going to capture the hearts of younger fans and fill seats. I may not appreciate the new style “music” as they call it, but I’m open to anything that’s going to put bums in seats, as long as they cater to guys like me sometimes too, after all they’ve got lots of my $ invested in them.

    BTW, Putting Kate Beirness on TNF was one of the best and smartest moves that TSN has made. Rod Smith is a pompous ass!

    • Only as old as you feel Blue (or as old as the joints make you feel) And here, here, to Kate Beirness.

  14. Pennyrocker // June 28, 2018 at 7:50 pm //

    Will there be censorship on the Mike. Especially on miss calls and blunders

    • They want to go live better be prepared to hear the colorful language.

      • It’s all on delay it will be beeped out.
        I was at the game in Ottawa last Thursday, I put TSN on my IPhone it was at least 30 seconds behind the live game in front of me.

    • Instead of refusing to say anything on the mic, Maas should just drop the F bomb every second word.

  15. If Rod Black was replaced, ratings would go up.

  16. TSN is making the wrong assumption that hearing the quarterback bark out commands can grow the fanbase. Even diehard CFL fans don’t understand the vernacular. How could casual or new fans possibly know what is being in the huddle or at the line of scrimmage? Answer is they can’t.

    If TSN wants to put a microphone on somebody, then it should be somebody who the public wants to hear speak. Leave the decision up to the public as a result of fan voting. I’m sure we all know Duron Carter would always win to become the Riders’ choice for their games.

    • It will get boring after a couple of games. These guys yapping the same trash talk game in and game out.
      I get it, it’s about getting the young people interested.
      The CFL needs the young audience – but right now the majority of CFL fans are “baby boomers” only a small fraction of the audience is millenials.

  17. Steve J. // June 28, 2018 at 11:01 pm //

    Still Hate it!!

  18. I would be ok with it if they didn’t have commentary on top of it. Its like listening to a radio show when some one is one a 2 second delay and they keep stepping on each other.

  19. Barndog // June 29, 2018 at 3:38 pm //

    I like the live mics, but I’ll wait and see about the ref cam. Usually they are too bouncy.

    Rod Black is by far the worst play by play guy, with Matt Dunigan being the worst color guy. Can you imagine the two of them together?

    Black and Forde are the worst team. I like what Forde has to say, but he sounds like he doesn’t want to be there.

    Cuthbert and Suitor are the best team, hands down.

  20. CFL’s Friday night double header started with the Mic’d up game – the loudest most uninformative bunch of gibberish that I recall for a CFL broadcast. They said two head coaches and the QB’s had microphones on but they mostly picked up crowd noise more than anything else. Neither coach said much, the QB’s called plays in non understandable code, announcers had to talk over those play calls and the several F-bombs added nothing to the process. Jock Climey said it added so much incite as to what the teams were doing. Sorry but I call BS. If the next mic’d up game is as loud and annoying I may just have to turn the sound off and just watch the video!

Comments are closed.