After years as an afterthought on America’s sporting leader, the CFL’s new U.S. television deal with CBS Sports Network is already delivering on the promise of increased marketing — and it comes courtesy of one of the most recognizable voices in sports.
On Saturday, Canadian fans tuning into CBS Sports’ live coverage of the PGA’s 2023 Memorial Tournament were delighted to hear legendary commentator Jim Nantz plug his company’s coverage of the CFL season-opener. The advertisement came complete with an on-screen graphic directing viewers to tune in on Thursday, June 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET to watch the B.C. Lions take on the Calgary Stampeders.
— Mitchell Blair (@mblairYQR) June 4, 2023
Any form of advertisement on American television is a welcome change for the CFL — let alone one on the main network — but having it come from Nantz is especially noteworthy. The 64-year-old broadcaster has been a television staple since the mid-1980s, known for his coverage of the PGA Tour, college basketball, and the NFL. He has been the NFL of CBS’s top play-by-play voice since 2004, working with Phil Simms and later Tony Romo, and has called six Super Bowls.
The CFL announced a multi-year deal with CBS Sports Network in April which will see the broadcaster carry 34 games in 2023, including the season-opener.
While CBS has the option to pick up more games, including the playoffs and Grey Cup, the remainder of the CFL’s schedule will be available to live stream for free in the U.S. using the league’s new digital platform, CFL+.
The move was a significant departure from the league’s previous long-term partnership with ESPN, which had carried every game in some capacity on their bevy of channels or digital platform. While CBS Sports Network will carry less than half of the league’s games to its smaller subscriber base, the deal is a large financial increase for the CFL at a reported $1 million per year and came with assurances regarding the active marketing of the product.
Though the network’s first broadcast of the CFL is still days away, it appears they are already living up to their end of the bargain.