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