CFL commish Randy Ambrosie: 100 million people could watch the Grey Cup in 10 years

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has said that the 2.0 initiative is aimed at getting the league and its fans to think about the CFL in a grander scale but there’s a fine line between “ambitious” and “delusional.”

While on The Lede podcast with Jeff Blair and noted CFL aficionado Stephen Brunt, Ambrosie laid out some staggering figures when it comes to predictions surrounding future TV viewership.

“Let’s be bigger and stronger, more exciting, more entertaining. We can have the 12 million fans that watch us in Canada on Grey Cup combined with another 20 million around the world and 20 million on six billion is not a bad bet. Now we have 32 to 35 million people watching Grey Cup. And why would we think that our game isn’t worthy of a 35 million, or 40 or 50 million fans around the world watching a game that’s fun and fast like ours is?” Ambrosie said.

“Ten years from now we will have 10 teams that will play nationally. By that time we will have somewhere between 50 and 70 million people around the world watching Grey Cup. And maybe a 100 million by the time we’re done. We won’t have one international broadcast deal, we’ll have 10.”

Viewership for the CFL’s championship game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Ottawa Redblacks in November 2018 was just 3.1 million on TSN – a decline of over 23 per cent from the 2017 game. It was the lowest-rated game since 2001 (2.7 million) and the worst showing for TSN since they took over the broadcast rights 11 years ago. But the low number hasn’t changed Ambrosie’s bullish stance on where the league can grow in the next decade.

“In that time the definition of the players that are playing is going to be an international community of players, the best in the world. We will be considered the great international football league. Somebody might be bigger than we are, but no one will be more impressive, no one will be more international than this league will be,” Ambrosie said.

“During that time the definition of ownership will change, we’ll see one or two of our franchises owned by international owners. We might see potentially CFL owners owning football teams in other countries around the world. All of those things are going to happen in the next 10 years.”

Ambrosie was speaking hypothetically of course but it’s clear his vision for CFL 2.0 goes well beyond adding a global player or two to each roster.

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