Unofficial livestream of Bombers-Riders game garners respectable viewership (& a few other thoughts)

What a time to be a-live.

The folks behind the Piffles Podcast live-streamed Thursday night’s preseason game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The livestream on Facebook reached a peak audience of 834 viewers during the Riders’ second-last offensive drive of the game.

Viewership fell sharply when Ty Gangi’s third-down pass attempt for Malik Wilson fell incomplete with 48 seconds remaining, resulting in a turnover on downs. The audience grew again after Winnipeg running back John Santiago fumbled on the ensuing first down, but plummeted after the Riders were unable to score.

Alex Dormuth of the Piffles Podcast would later tweet that the broadcast achieved 13,200 total viewers.

The Bombers live-streamed last week’s preseason game against the Eskimos and communications director Darren Cameron provided some viewership figures on twitter.

Winnipeg’s stream had a total audience of 12,000 viewers, a substantial percentage of which came from international markets. The Bombers synced the video feed with Bob Irving’s call on CJOB radio, creating a pretty slick product.

The Piffles stream was produced by pointing a smart phone at an in-stadium video board. There was no commentary and the video quality was poor. That’s not a knock on the Piffles gang — I applaud them for broadcasting the game — but it’s interesting to see such a low-tech stream achieve strong viewership.

Thursday’s game in Regina was entertaining even by regular season standards. Winnipeg scored two 86-yard touchdowns, Zach Collaros threw for two scores, and Jon Ryan made his much-anticipated home Roughrider debut.

More people should have had the opportunity to watch the contest, which ended in a 35-29 Blue Bomber victory. It was quality entertainment.

The Riders elected not to do a livestream of their home preseason game, a decision that my colleague Darrell Davis supported.

The Piffles Podcast crew proved, however, that third parties will stream untelevised games if teams don’t do it themselves. If clubs want to control access to their product — and they all do — they need to step-up and provide a livestream to untelevised games. It’s that simple.

Roster moves

It’s tough to analyze the performance of Winnipeg’s roster without seeing the game live or on television, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide some insight on how the Bombers may shape their roster ahead of the regular season.

Defensive tackle Steven Richardson may have won a starting job at the expense of Brandin Bryant or Drake Nevis. The 23-year-old has tremendous leverage in the middle and recorded a sack in the third quarter of Thursday’s game.

Lucky Whitehead should be a lock to make the team after recording an 86-yard touchdown reception in Regina. I expect he’ll fill the role the club once envisioned for Ryan Lankford — speedy return specialist and deep threat receiver.

Kenny Lawler appeared to have the inside track on a starting job in the receiving corps after last week’s preseason game, but the former Seattle Seahawk had just one reception in Regina. Rasheed Bailey and Kenny Walker had strong outings, while Whitehead and the injured Charles Nelson should stick with the club as well.

Bryan Bennett was Winnipeg’s best quarterback throughout the preseason. The gap between Chris Streveler (second-string) and Bennett (third-string) was massive heading into training camp, but I’m not convinced that’s still the case. Newcomer Sean McGuire played well, too — he deserves a spot on the practice roster.

The Bombers are required to trim their roster by 9:00 PM CDT on Saturday, though final cuts may not be announced until Sunday. Stay tuned.

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