Three downs on the CFL on TSN: analyzing Week 16 television broadcasts

Screenshot: CFL on TSN. Edit: 3DownNation.

We’re headed down the home stretch of the CFL regular season and things are heating up as the temperatures start to drop.

With three of the league’s six playoff spots already decided, Week 16 put the race — which feels more like a stumble home at two o’clock in the morning — for the final three postseason berths front and centre.

Who takes those final spots may come down to who sucks the least.

Here are my thoughts on the week that was for the CFL on TSN.

First down

With the CFL (smartly) staying out of the NFL’s way, the schedule has changed to more traditional doubleheaders on Fridays and Saturdays. The league could probably hold its own against the NFL on Thursdays but it doesn’t seem worth splitting the audience. As much as I love college football, it’s not really a competitor for eyeballs on Saturdays.

What has changed this year, and I’m not sure if this was a league decision or something requested by TSN, is the brief overlap between the two games on Friday night.

It’s only half an hour or so, but I think having two games on at once helps make the league feel bigger. Part of the reason why the NFL is so successful on Sunday afternoons, which is when it generally does the best ratings-wise in Canada, is the variety of games available from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m EDT.

The CFL obviously can’t create that kind of volume with a maximum of four games per week, but I like the overlapping doubleheaders.

We had a tripleheader a few weeks ago and I think it would have been better had the games overlapped more. Since two of the three games ended up being blowouts, viewers may have stayed more engaged with the product if given the option to switch to another game rather than turning on something else.

Nine hours of football is also a lot to ask. Trimming an hour or two off of that window with staggered start times would have helped.

In the past, the CFL hasn’t overlapped games due to a lack of resources in the command centre. They’ve obviously found a way to make it work for a short period of time and hopefully they can find a way to expand that capability further.

Second down

One aspect of broadcasts that often gets overlooked is sound.

TSN did live mic games in the past and while they were fun for a bit, the novelty wore off pretty quickly. Though we don’t get as much sound as we used to, which is OK, TSN still picks up a bunch of sound that we don’t often get to hear, sometimes for good reason.

This week, they did a great job capturing a hard count from Calgary Stampeders’ quarterback Jake Maier.

This was well done by everyone involved as it got cut up and replayed quickly to illustrate why the Montreal Alouettes jumped offside. The people in the truck often don’t get much love but without them, the broadcast would be pretty boring.

Third down

Lastly, we had a fun moment during the game between the Edmonton Elks and B.C. Lions.

TSN often features a sponsored segment called “Moment of Chill.” This isn’t your typical play-of-the-game type thing, as it often has little to do with the game at all.

This time, we learned that Edmonton defensive back Ed Gainey, who was mistakenly identified as A.C. Leonard because he was wearing a shirt bearing his old No. 6, picked up a hot dog from a stadium vendor before the game.

This led to some banter between play-by-play announcer Dustin Nielson and colour analyst Glen Suitor. This type of banter is one of many things that I think Nielson does well.

The pair got into the time-honoured debate regarding whether or not ketchup belongs on a hot dog. Despite my immense respect for Nielson, I was disturbed to learn that he is a ketchup-on-a-hot dog kind of guy. Suitor was correct in his assertion that mustard is all you need. This doesn’t mean that other options don’t work, but mustard is the base of a good hot dog. Period.

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