Expect some changes to the CFL on TSN broadcasts this year.
The biggest move, according to multiple sources, will see SportsCentre anchor Kate Beirness take over from Rod Smith as the host of Thursday Night Football.
“Last year the CFL and teams got away from the young and fun Thursday Night Football initiative that had been implemented in 2016,” a source said. “But now everyone is back on board and committing to making TNF destination viewing with the focus on a younger demographic.”
Beirness, 34, has worked primarily as an anchor on SportsCentre and has also hosted the network’s NCAA tournament coverage.
Smith will continue to host the Friday night panel in addition to doing more play-by-play in support of Chris Cuthbert and Rod Black. Duane Forde and Glen Suitor will return as the primary colour commentators.
Former CFL player Davis Sanchez, who earned strong reviews for his performance on TSN’s CFL Draft coverage, is also expected to have an increased presence on the panel, which is expected to include Matt Dunigan, Jock Climie, Milt Stegall and Henry Burris in various combinations. The 43-year-old Davis brings an injection of youth to the panel while also addressing one of the biggest criticisms: the lack of a defensive perspective.
Anticipate seeing Chris Schultz back as a CFL fantasy football specialist on SportsCentre, though how much he’ll be a part of CFL on TSN telecasts – if at all – remains unclear.
The CFL’s deal with TSN, which gives the broadcaster exclusive rights to every game, runs through 2021 and is worth a reported $40 million a year to the league.