On Friday, the Ottawa Redblacks grabbed the attention of the CFL fandom with a 35 second video and a date.
The short trailer, shared on Twitter, teased some form of behind-the-scenes documentary content to be released on January 29th. While details remain scarce, OSEG president and CEO Mark Goudie joined The Drive on TSN 1200 in Ottawa to confirm that the Redblacks would in fact be releasing something inspired in part by Netflix’s mega-hit documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive.
— Ottawa REDBLACKS (@REDBLACKS) January 21, 2022
“Drive to Survive, I’m an F1 fan and I can’t believe that happened. Watching it I was just so pulled into the story, about the drivers and what was happening, the politics behind the, the scenes and all of that stuff. It was fascinating,” Goudie detailed.
“I think that’s what you’re looking at, building emotional attachment with people at the end of the day, and I think we’ve done a good job with R-Nation over the last seven years, but we’re looking to expand that and to go deeper. That’s the kind of stuff that we want to do.”
Since the release of it’s first season in March of 2019, Drive to Survive has captivated viewers and driven interest in the sport of racing. That has led fans of the CFL to speculate that similar content could be extremely beneficial to the CFL, an idea also parroted by the upstart XFL.
Players have long complained about the lack of content produced by the league despite never having greater capabilities to do so, but the Redblacks are ready to buck the trend. The trailer appears to show in the room footage from meetings between head coach Paul LaPolice and new general manager Shawn Burke discussing player moves, as well as meetings with pending free agents.
The style of the clips looks similar to that of long-time NFL documentary series Hard Knocks, providing a new level of access to CFL fans and even challenging the comfort level of those involved.
“I think that’s going to be really cool behind the scenes stuff. It’s a little scary when you start getting into it, because you’ve got to be a little bit vulnerable. You’ve got to show yourself to be a real person and real people say stupid things and do stupid things from time to time,” Goudie explained.
“It’s a little bit of a departure for us, but also the CFL ,in terms of some of the stuff that we’ve done. I look forward to seeing it. I think that’s a big part of how we start re-talking to Ottawa and Gatineau and R-Nation going forward.”
The Redblacks are preparing to be on the cutting edge of immersive fan content and if he had a time-machine, Goudie would have started making it sooner. After one of the most difficult stretches in CFL history, he sees a missed opportunity to stay engaged with fans.
“If we had to go do the pandemic again, I would’ve tried really hard to figure out how we could have had cameras in the board of governor calls and on the calls with the league as they worked their way through because it would’ve been fascinating stuff for people to watch,” Goudie said.
While it won’t quite be pandemic board meeting levels of excitement, fans will get a peek behind the curtain at Shawn Burke’s first offseason at the helm of the Redblacks at the end of the month. For that, Goudie gave credit to the content creator.
“I’m excited for what’s to come with that and I think that’s the kind of thing that we do a really good job on. Josh [O’Connor], our guy on that, is phenomenal,” he said. “We’re lucky to have him, if you’ve seen some of the stuff we’ve pumped out already this year.”