Draft coverage still has a long way to go

Coverage of the CFL Draft has improved immensely over the last couple of years. I still remember sitting at a computer at the John M. Kelly Library on the University of Toronto campus in 2005 watching not a live stream, but a text-based live blog of sorts get updated on the TSN website to see where Jesse Lumsden got picked and if it was to Hamilton. (He did, and it was.)

We have come a long way from me frantically refreshing a webpage waiting to see who the next pick would be. In the intervening 11 years, TSN stepped up its draft game. Now the network shows a couple rounds live on TV and the rest of the draft is streamed online or on the TSN Go app.

It is a major upgrade in coverage, but there is still a long way to go.

For starters, if you wanted to know who went where you were better off following our very own Justin Dunk than you were watching TSN. Dunk had picks well in advance of the commissioner announcing them, and sometimes was more than a couple picks ahead. TSN would go for commercial and Dunk would name one or two players that were selected during the break.

Some fans were complaining about Dunk tipping picks, but they sure went silent when the action switched from TSN to their website.

The draft wrapped up on TSN at 8:00 and fans were sent to the TSN website to watch the remaining rounds. Picks were released on Twitter while the TSN website was dormant, telling fans they would be back shortly. After 10 minutes, and a number of picks announced via social media, the video feed was finally up.


For such a major event such as the draft to go silent for 10 minutes on the league’s lone broadcaster is a slap in the face to the CFL as a whole and its fans. TSN has five channels and instead of having the draft shown in its entirety on even one of them, they instead decided to show basketball on four of them and hockey talk on the other. Maybe the ratings for the draft aren’t through the roof, but with five channels at your disposal, TSN could at least dedicate one to the draft.

But none of that would have been a problem if the video was up on the TSN website in time. A couple minutes to get things sorted out would have been understandable, but to go nearly 10 minutes before they are back up and running is indefensible. This is not the first time TSN has gone from television to online for the draft, but it sure seemed like it was amateur hour at Canada’s sports leader.

TSN should be given props for stepping up their draft coverage in recent years, but work is still left to be done. Gone are the days when I sat hunched over a computer screen refreshing the page waiting for text to be updated, but that doesn’t mean things are perfect or even where they should be.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.