Three downs on the CFL on TSN: analyzing Week 7 television broadcasts

Screenshot courtesy: TSN

Coming off one of the more chaotic weeks in recent CFL memory, Week 7 offered up a return to stability for the league.

If you’re a coach reading this, you probably enjoyed that. However, for fans and I assume the folks at TSN, it would have been nice to see more of what we saw the week before, though Sunday’s game between Ottawa and Calgary offered up plenty of fun to close out the slate.

A relatively quiet week in the CFL was reflected in the broadcasts that were mostly the same. As always, though, there are a few things to note. Here are my thoughts on the CFL on TSN for Week 7.

First down

When TSN made Thursday Night Football a permanent fixture a few years ago, they set out to try and set it apart from its other broadcasts.

Thursdays have generally featured pre-game shows and it’s where we were first introduced to Kate Beirness as the host of the panel. TSN also tied in a concert series with its Thursday night broadcasts during its first season as a unique brand, though this has mostly been discontinued.

Since then, the broadcast has more or less blended in with the rest of the games in any given week, only with a specific graphic for the evening.

One thing that has remained (sort of) is the influence of music.

Though we don’t see live performances much anymore, it’s the night of the week when we tend to get different “bumper music” throughout the broadcast. This is something that’s done a lot in radio and many sports broadcasts in the United States do the same.

The major difference is these other mediums play all kinds of songs from different genres and eras. TSN, meanwhile, subjects us to the same song every time. This isn’t about the paid ads featuring a few different artists during commercial breaks, though those could also use some variety. These are very specific. This past week, we heard Country Girls by Luke Bryan more times than I can count.

Though I’m personally not a fan of country music, this isn’t about that. Please, give us a mix of songs. Enough is enough already.

Second down

There was probably one segment across the week that got more attention than any other.

Ahead of the game between B.C. and Saskatchewan, the teams hosted a watermelon smash pre-game festival of sorts with plenty of activities for fans heading to the stadium. It was a great initiative and both teams deserve credit for working together to make it a fun experience for all.

It was apparently so fun that the panel even got caught up in the excitement.

It was the halftime bit that particularly caught people’s attention, for better or worse.

Personally? I kind of liked it. Yes, we want discussions from the panel breaking down the game. That won’t ever go away. It’s important.

However, I think these panels having some fun adds to the broadcast as well.

Many readers won’t agree with this take and that’s fine. There’s certainly a discussion to be had about the balance between fun and football talk as well as the type of football talk that should be featured.

With that said, I thought this segment felt more natural than some of the other lighthearted moments we’ve seen from the panel. It would have been better had the panel been on location in Vancouver to partake with the crowd instead of in a back alley outside of the studio. That’s the only thing I would have changed.

Third down

I want to end this week’s edition of this column by giving a shoutout to Regina-based sideline reporter Brit Dort.

When Sara Orlesky left TSN for a job with the Winnipeg Jets, it set off a series of changes that saw John Lu leave his long-time post in Montreal for Winnipeg and Claire Hanna move from Regina to Ottawa to replace the recently laid-off Brent Wallace.

Dort was and remains with CTV Regina. Like Hanna and Lee Jones before her, she was able to use her role at the local station to reach the national audience. The station has turned into a pretty good pipeline for TSN as Bell Media is currently asking the CRTC to remove local news broadcast requirements, which is something to consider.

Dort was understandably a little green at first but has quickly grown in her role. Obviously, the higher-ups at TSN have taken notice as she did games in Vancouver and Calgary this past week.

It’s been fun watching local talent flourish. Hopefully, this will be an option that will remain available to aspiring broadcasters in the future.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.