Monday Mailbag: CFL attendance in Alberta, cable-cutting & content

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The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag answers questions from readers across the country every week.

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We’ve answered a handful of questions below. If your question didn’t get picked, don’t panic — we’ll save it to potentially answer here next week or on the 3DownNation Podcast.


Alberta premier Jason Kenney keeps telling reporters who ask if fans will be in the stands for the CFL that yes, fans will be in the stands once kickoff happens. Is that true?

-John Kerby

Thanks for the question, John.

Alberta reached a COVID-19 vaccination threshold of 70 percent of eligible residents on Friday, which triggered stage three of their reopening plan. This means virtually all health restrictions will be lifted by Canada Day, giving the province over a month to settle in before Calgary and Edmonton play their home openers on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Kenney told the media in late May that the CFL would be permitted to play games at full capacity if stage three of their reopening plan was reached. He reiterated this in a Tweet on June 5, using the province’s #OpenForSummer hashtag.

Barring a major unforeseen change, I believe we’ll see very large crowds at McMahon Stadium and Commonwealth Stadium in a little under seven weeks.


Cable providers like the owners of TSN, the main network of curling and golf in Canada, are struggling to hold onto young subscribers as most don’t bother with cable and tend to stream the content they watch.

I’m surprised no one has called out TSN for their part in the advanced average age of CFL viewers, while they point fingers at (and blame their problems on) the league. Just the same as the CFL’s Grey Cup portal, where people can re-watch old championships from the 50s, 60s and 70s, doesn’t exactly have the aura of targeting youth.


Thanks for the message, Denis.

You’re absolutely right that the traditional cable model is no longer an optimal way to reach a young audience. 22.4 percent of Canadian households didn’t have cable as of 2019, which was up from 7 percent in 2012. The “cable-cutting” movement skews young with 56.1 percent of Canadian households under 30 choosing not to pay for cable.

I got rid of cable following the 2019 CFL season and haven’t missed it since. When the league returns in August, I’ll stream it using TSN Direct.

I streamed the entire 2020 NFL season on DAZN and found myself watching a bunch of the extras my subscription included — things like “Rookie Diaries,” “Hard Knocks,” and “A Football Life.” I really enjoyed them and wish we had more content like it north of the border.

TSN has 405,000 subscribers on YouTube with videos such as “CAN YOU COUNT FROM 1 TO 99 USING NHL JERSEY NUMBERS?,” “CAN YOU NAME EVERY STANLEY CUP WINNER IN REVERSE ORDER?,” and “USING 1,000 PUCKS IN A HOCKEY WARMUPS” garnering millions of views.

The content is lighthearted and entertaining. It’s meant to engage a young audience and clearly does so effectively on a platform they love.

The videos don’t have to be football-oriented — in fact, they might be better if they’re not. A clip of Edmonton receiver Shai Ross dunking an Oreo into a glass of milk just went viral in Canada and the United States. It had nothing to do with football, but it showcased the jaw-dropping athletic ability of CFL players.

Producing content takes time and money, but investing in targeting a young audience will always be worth it. The question shouldn’t be, “Can we afford to?” but instead, “Can we afford not to?”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.