Realty One

Thursday, September 15, 2016



1 - A DISTURBING TREND: The CFL's Director of Communications Paulo Senra sent out a Tweet last night detailing the ratings for pro football on Canadian television over the weekend.  The top three most-watched games were all NFL: Giants/Cowboys, Dolphins/Seahawks, Lions/Colts.  Each drew almost 900,000 viewers

What's more disturbing; the fact the NFL is the most-watched football league in Canada right now, or the fact the CFL is publicizing it?

PR people are telling me this morning that those three games combined totalled 899,000 in that timeslot. So what?  The CFL was on at the same time and we got beaten.

This is how the ratings looked:

How do you see that?

I Tweeted a note at Mr. Senra saying I'd be a lot more excited about the ratings if the CFL had come out on top.  It wasn't very long ago that they did, week after week.

On Monday's SportsCage on 620 CKRM I noted that this CFL vs NFL debate amongst fans and media is silly and that the ratings will ultimately demonstrate which league's winning in this country.

And then ... this.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the CFL's off-season meetings to see how they're going to reverse this trend.

2 - FURTHERMORE: The most-watched CFL game last week was Saturday night's Calgary at Edmonton game (780,000 viewers) followed by Saskatchewan at Winnipeg (701,000), Hamilton at Toronto (497,000) and Montreal at B.C. (472,000).

In 2009, these were the CFL's ratings on Labour Day Weekend:

Blue Bombers at Roughriders: 1,340,000
Eskimos at Stampeders: 1,083,000
Lions at Alouettes: 914,000
Argonauts at Tiger-Cats, 879,000

Up until a couple of years ago, the NFL barely even rated on Sunday afternoons in this country.

A simple tweaking of the CFL rules followed by an effective marketing campaign can turn this thing back in the CFL's favour.

However changing the league's logo clearly has done nothing to advance the product.  In fact it's probably just confused them.

3 - HOW'S THE RIDER BRAND NOW?: Things seem to be stabilizing around here and that's a good thing.  Khalif Mitchell is gone without ever having played a game as a Roughrider (it's like it never even happened), the Ottawa RedBlacks were fined for a roster violation and the Calgary Stampeders have had a player suspended for PED use.

Does this mean that people will stop bashing the Saskatchewan Roughriders?

That's what we'll debate today on the SportsCage: if you had soured on the Riders because of all these things, are you now coming back?

4 - GAME DETAILS: The Roughriders host the Eskimos in Sunday's annual Plaza of Honor Game (2:30 pm, TSN, CKRM Network) at which Rider greats Ivan Gutfriend and Matt Dominguez will be honoured following their induction on Friday.  Oddsmaker Bodog has the Eskimos favoured by 4.5-points in this one.  Meanwhile the forecast calls for sunshine, wind and 19 degrees Celsius.

It's also the Roughriders' Canadian Forces Appreciation Day.

The featured alumni at Sunday's game will be Mike Maurer, Paul Hickie, Matt Dominguez, Ivan Gutfriend and Jeff Bentrim.

5 - STEADY EDDIE: Speaking of the military and law enforcement, I've pretty much stayed out of the Colin Kaepernick scandal since I'm a Saskatchewan farm kid and have no idea what minorities suffer in the USA.  However former Rider punter Eddie Johnson - a veteran of nine NFL teams who hails from Anaheim, CA - had these thoughts on any NFL player who thumbs his nose at the Star Spangled Banner:

God Bless America. If you don't like this country then leave. Don't let the doorknob hit you on your ass on the way out. #americanflag

And now you're not shocked that Eddie and I always meet up whenever I'm through Southern California.

6 - JIVIN' IVAN: Ivan Gutfriend spent 38 years with the Roughriders, the majority of them as Head Therapist.  He gave a fantastic interview on In The Huddle on Access 7 this week where he discussed his Rider stories and offered his thoughts on the state of the game today.  He said there are way, way more injuries in football now than ever before (which is odd because the current focus is supposed to be on player safety).  Ivan feels the #1 culprit is over-training in the off-season and pro football players never really give their bodies a rest in between seasons.

Something's up, and all the efforts to protect these players can't save them from themselves.

7 - RIDER INJURIES: Rider fan Craig Radke in Edmonton constructed the following graph tracking the Roughriders' injuries this season compared to other teams in the CFL.  The Riders are by far the team hurt the most by injuries:
Craig's explanation:

"The importance of continuity and staying healthy in this league cannot be understated.

The graph shows an unmistakable trend this season where the healthy teams are succeeding, and the unhealthy teams are struggling. On one end, Calgary's only got 4 men on the 6-game and they're rolling because they've got that continuity, especially on the all-important O-line. On the other end, the Riders have 18 men on the 6-game and and it shows in their inability to string together a 60 minute game. I thought it was uncanny how the other 7 teams follow the same general trend between the two extremes.

I'm not saying the Riders would have 8 wins if they'd have been able to stay healthy, but this graph certainly shows that the injury story is more than just a "cheap excuse". In my mind, this graph alone should silence the Jones haters suggesting that he can't find enough talent to fill in the holes he created in the offseason, or he's in over his head. Considering the slate of injuries he's had to deal with at some key starting positions across the roster, and considering that 8 of our 10 games have been close, I'd say he's done an admirable job. Personally I'm excited to see what this team can do when healthy."

8 - NOAH'S ARC: Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton threw a lot of them in last week's win over Manitoba and for the second consecutive week, the heir to the Picton Dairy Queen throne has been named the Canada West Offensive Player of the Week.  One week ago today Noah set school records for completions (40) and pass attempts (60) while throwing for a career-high 499 yards and four touchdowns in the school's victory over the Bisons.

The 1-1 Rams are at UBC this Saturday night on 620 CKRM.  Mitchell Blair will have the call.

From what I understand, the October 1 game between the Rams and Saskatchewan Huskies at New Mosaic Stadium is already soldout.  I received word that I'll be part of the Access/Shaw broadcast of that historic game throughout Western Canada and that's fantastic.

People are clamouring for the City of Regina and Regina Rams to open up more seating for the game.

We'll see if that happens.

9 - MORE ON THE RAMS: The Regina Rams Alumni will be roasting former running back Neal Hughes on Saturday, October 8 at the Victoria Club.  Tickets are just $25 and everyone is welcome.  Call or text Larry Mueller for tickets at 306-539-9541.

When we find out who the celebrity roasters are, I'll pass it along.

10 - WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY: It's been weird to turn on the TV and watch hockey so soon in September and even more strange to see the players actually trying.  This variation on the old Canada Cup has been getting the universal thumbs-down from many around here but I've found it fascinating and enjoyable.  So too have many Canadians, as 903,000 tuned in for Friday's Canada-USA game in Columbus.

However who's idea was it for Canada to play Russia in Pittsburgh last night?  Near the end of the game there were tons of empty seats down near the ice at Consol Energy Centre.

Either way, it's been great for the game and I'm all for it.  Can't wait for the games to actually mean something.




mister winnipeg said...

Why should I, as a fan, really care about the ratings of the CFL relative to that of the NFL?

I only watch the CFL but at the end of the day what difference does it make to me if other sports fans are watching hockey as opposed to baseball as opposed to American football. It's just not a big deal to me.

Rod Pedersen said...

It's called sports business and making money.

Anonymous said...

Out of the 18 players on the 6 game IL, over half are there for salary cap reasons.

John Knight said...

Mr Winnipeg, you are 100% correct

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that Paulo in that tweet actually seemed proud of the fact that the CFL games were in fourth place. To me it is unacceptable that a great league with such a rich tradition is now playing second fiddle to the league down south. Embarrassing really. You're right in that the league needs an aggressive marketing campaign but most importantly change these stupid rules that have alienated so many fans. When you have hardcore fans like Ridergirl (Colleen Sutton) and Scott Schultz upset, that says this is no sour grapes thing. If you're talking to Mr. Morsky this weekend tell him to get the board to demand these stupid rules be removed. That goes for all you fans reading this blog, demand the change that is sorely needed and it will happen.

Good luck today with your speech at the Recovery luncheon. I watched that clip on CTV and some of the words you used were quite startling. Your recovery has been an inspiration considering you're in the alcohol-fuelled world of sports. Wish I could be there to hear your story. Maybe if the haters seen that side of you they'd have a different opinion. Best of luck buddy.


J FRENCH said...

doubt there will be anything interesting in the CFL winter meetings. They are in denial about the problem, too busy patting themselves on the back with all the penalties they have been calling. Look at all the wrongdoing we are catching!

If this league wants to be successful, they need to get rid of the commish and the VP of officiating. Then roll back some of the rule changes that has caused this to become the flag football league. Then fire up a decent marketing campaign and hope you can undo the damage.

It was embarrassing at the Winnipeg game last week. Fans would sit on there hands when a big play occurred, waiting to see if there was a flag before they would cheer. It has taken all the life out of our game.

Anonymous said...

Rod, when I look at the TV ratings I read it differently. I see it as the 3 games being broadcast on CTV (Giants/Cowboys, Dolphins/Seahawks, Lions/Colts) had a total combined audience of 900,000. Not all three games each drew 900,000. It would make sense as those games are on TV at the same time on different CTV channels.

Anonymous said...

CFL rule changes, Blue Jays short term success and World cup of hockey have taken a toll on TV ratings. Definitely a lack of talent and marketing from the CFL offices. Just another bump in the road for the CFL.

Anonymous said...

I have had trouble watching the CFL this year due to the number of penalties called, the ridiculous amount of challenges by coaches (which hopefully has been corrected). In the Sask/Wpg game on Saturday the officials must have called every possible penalty it was ridiculous. They say a penalty could almost be called on every play in football and the refs seemed to want that to happen Saturday. I watched some NFL Sunday and there were very similar plays as in the CFL and guess what, a penalty wasn't called! Yet I was thinking in the CFL a flag would have hit the turf. Until the CFL cleans this up it is getting hard to watch. I will always watch the Riders win or lose, but some of the other games are hard to stomach with all the penalties.
They can give stats all they want but something is different this year. Going forward the CFL will always have a tough time competing with the NFL. Most CFL stadiums are primarily used by the CFL teams. Why can't the CFL play all their games Friday and Saturday to avoid playing Sunday against arguably the most watched league in North America. It would also help if the CFL started a month earlier.

mister winnipeg said...

"It's called sports business and making money."

Great, and maybe that's relevant to you as someone in the sports business. But as a fan I'm not sure why it's relevant to me.

I guess all these years of reading articles that talk about CFL team attendance, season ticket sales, viewership, etc. have turned me off a bit. I mean, I'm not an accountant, a sponsor, a player or marketing VP. I'm a SPORTS fan. I could be the only human being watching a Bomber game on TV and it wouldn't diminish my enjoyment any. In the middle of the season the focus should be on SPORTS, not leading off with an article about TV viewership measurements.

Rod Pedersen said...

Transfer it to your own life. Do you strive to be the best at anything?

Why do you think I work to gave the most-read sports blog are #1 rated radio show? It attracts dollars.

Why do I feel like I'm whistling in the dark here?

CM said...

CFL was always a more exciting, faster game than NFL whereas NFL had greatest athletes and very precise plays. Then NFL liberalized PI rules and excitement went up. CFL went the other way. Trying to be precise, over officiated which has slowed the game down to NFL pace or worse, made the game boring compared to the NFL. Since the better athletes are down there, there isn't much comparison now. Fix CFL blow out Glen Johnson, put flow back in the game and hopefully ratings improve. As for Jones, I am a supporter but he must take some blame for lack of continuity as he blew out the whole team. When you dump a Dressler he may not be better athletically than Holley or Chiles, but he has repoire with Durant and that conitnuity translates on the field. Also Anthony Allen looks far better than any tailback Riders have started this year.

Anonymous said...

As for the state of of officiating in the cfl, I agree Johnson has to go. He should not be running the league. It is ridiculous that every play is called from the command center and it takes way too long. IT IS RUINING THE GAME.

Don Mitchell said...

Rod, the CFL really needs to get back on Network TV, like it or not the reach of CTV over TSN is huge (CTV is on every basic package and you can get it on Over the Air in totally uncompressed HD). Even 1 game a week on CBC would be a huge benefit to the league.

Tweek the rules back to allowing hand fighting, reduce the challenges and let the players play would also help.

I think that next year with a normal schedule coming out of Toronto we can cut out the silly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday games and limit it to Friday Saturday and Sunday prior to Sept Long weekend.

Finally, Canada can never over come the US Behemoth but getting the CFL on more digital platforms would help to raise the profile around Canada and eventually the world.

Anonymous said...

CFL and Orridge have made some strides in marketing with DraftKings and better online presence but it still has a long way to go. Why is NFL merchandise featured prominently in sports bars across Canada but not CFL. Why do these same sports bars actively promote NFL games with specials and jersey giveaways but not CFL? Why do beer companies promote the hell out of the NFL but not the CFL? Why is the NFL streaming a game on the internet free of charge but the CFL is not? Why does the NFL encourage and promote tailgating but the CFL hasn't been lobbying politicians to do the same here? And the biggest thing, WHY is the NFL sponsoring youth flag football in this country but the CFL isn't? That's the biggest blunder of all. Rod if I'm not mistaken you mentioned once that the CFL had the opportunity to do so but passed on it. Brutal! Here's your chance to promote the game to the next generation and you've let the competition come in and scoop them up like ice cream. Horrible, horrible marketing. Some heap praise on Cohon but personally I think he was very overrated as a commish. Glad-handing with fans at parties instead of working on the issues like he's supposed to. He left us in this mess and poor Orridge has to clean it up from behind the 8 ball.

Yes the CFL has a long way to go. The good news is that it's not too late to turn it around.

Gunderson's Yorkton

Craig said...

Hey Rod, nice to see my graph made it “big time” on your blog. To the anonymous commenter that suggested the Riders are hiding healthy players on the 6-game for salary cap reasons, I’d like to ask for names of players on the list ( that aren’t truly injured. Looking at the names (Best, Brooks, Eguavoen, Hus, Jackson, King, LaBatte, Moore, Norwood, Steele, Steinhauer) I see a lot of players that would be starting and making an impact if they weren’t truly injured.

Anonymous said...

As for coach Jones he has my 100% support. He is very hard working and consistent in his actions. The player and assistant coaches really like working for him. Of course 1-10 isn't good enough for me either but I am not surprised after last year's debacle. This is a rebuild people!

Bart in Regina

P.S. keep up the great coverage Rod. We need to keep this CFL coverage front and center until officiating common sense returns.

Anonymous said...

Here's a dose of reality for you Mister Winnipeg. When ratings go down there's less revenue for the broadcaster and the teams. This devalues the product. If ratings dip low enough, TSN will stop putting all the games on TV or pull out of broadcasting it all together because they can't make enough money to pay their employees producing the product. Simple economics. The higher the ratings are, the more money the league gets. This creates a bidding war for your product and allows for revenue to be driven from TV advertising for your league. If a strong TV deal doesn't happen, we'll be back to black outs and a league trying to survive solely on the number of people who go to the stadium.

Clear enough for you?

Anonymous said...

Over the course of a year I see more NFL games than CFL games because I do not have cable. I have the digital converter for my rabbit ears and watch the Sunday NFL games on CTV. I have season tickets for the Riders and go to the 4 Seasons for Rider away games. I miss the days when CBC and CTV televised CFL games. Too bad that Bell media would not at least put a few CFL games a year on CTV to reach more of the multitudes who do not have cable TV due to financial reasons or because they have Netflix etc.

Anonymous said...

Rod, when the Riders travel to TO you and Orridge should meet up and bury the hatchet. You don't have to like each other but I think you need to work together. You're obviously good at marketing which Orridge could use and being the voice of the Riders you could use Orridge's position at the top to help plan which way the league is going. It can only be a good thing, I think. What's in the past is done and time to move on.


Curt Dittmer said...

I'm not sure a few rule tweaks and better marketing will bring the CFL back to where it once was. The best marketing any league can do is put an entertaining product on the field. The CFL has not been consistently entertaining for the past 3 years. This is largely due to the lack of talent at the QB position throughout the league. The reason the CFL has implemented all of these ridiculous rule changes is to try and artificially increase offence. The level of QB play in this league is frankly not good enough and certainly not comparable to what it was say 10 years ago. There is a reason that Henry Burris still has a job at age 40+ and why Ricky Ray is still around. Can you imagine what NFL QB's would do with the larger field? Every game would be 72 - 63. As it is, the NFL QBs have created a very offense minded and vastly more entertaining league. Yes there are some games which are duds but there are more exciting games than bad ones, in the CFL it is the reverse as the exciting game is now a rarity due to the lack of offensive talent on the field. I am surprised that people are shocked that the NFL is more popular than the CFL. It has been this way for awhile, to not recognize that is to be in denial. It is the on-field product which makes it more popular, not the logo, not the marketing campaigns. The CFL is losing a whole generation of fans as younger kids are not interested in the CFL at all. When I was in Toronto at the beginning of July to watch the Blue Jays I did not see one piece of Argos gear being worn or even being sold in stores. There was plenty of Blue Jays, Leafs and Raptors gear. There was also plenty of Buffalo Bills gear available for sale. My son, who until recently worked at Jersey City said that CFL gear has hardly moved in the past year (including Riders). Again they sell lots of NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA gear but CFL gear was in significant decline. I truly believe the CFL is a league in crisis and is struggling to retain relevancy.

The other factor which I think is now hurting the CFL is the TV presentation. The TSN coverage is hurting the watchability of the game. Outside of Chris Cuthbert I cannot think of one regular commentator I want to listen to: Suitor is the master of the obvious and annoying, Rod Black is horrendous and even the CFL panel is terrible (I really hate the "humourous" vignettes they run). TSN never criticizes the league or calls it like it is. NFL broadcasters are not afraid to criticize the league or officals when warranted. They will tell you when a game is bad as opposed to claim that the low score is due to "great defence." I now listen to all Rider games on the radio while watching the pictures on TV even with the audio being ahead of the picture.

joe bunyawk said...

CTV does major promotion of its NFL coverage with the help of TSN. Yes TSN has done a nice job with the CFL but it's apples and oranges when it comes to the number of homes with CTV (all of them) compared to TSN. They are the same company so it might be nice to have one game a week on CTV but it seems the network isn't interested in disrupting its prime time schedule so would need to be the weekend. And because CTV definitely has that NFL Sunday block in concrete that leaves only Saturday afternoon which features a ton of US College football. Doesn't leave a lot of room for CFL or CIS. There has always been competition for viewers but never more so than today.

Dan said...

I like Eddie Johnson, he was fun to have on the team but Eddie Johnson (white guy)probably doesn't understand the challenges facing black Americans either. Lots of players of colour on the current Rider roster that may have some interesting opinions on this. May be worth asking around and add their comments as well.

My first reaction when I heard about Kaepernick's anthem protest was also negative but my feelings have changed as I've thought about it more. It has brought further attention to an important issue in a way that is not hurting anyone. No property damaged, no one risks getting shot attending a protest. President Obama is supportive. He's probably more qualified to offer an opinion on this than Eddie Johnson.

Anonymous said...

To the above poster questioning how the idea that sports is a business and about making money and how that should be relevant to him. Here is a simple explanation, if you aren't making money it is no longer viable to move forward and then you know what happens? You lose teams who can't continue to operate by losing money. Enough teams fall into this categrory and before you know it there is no CFL anymore. All sports teams and leagues (professional, semi - professional and lower even) operate this way. It's like if you can't pay your mortgage, you lose your house. Is that simple enough for you?


Anonymous said...

So I have been seriously contemplating scrapping my cable package and going online for all my television watching. What that means for sports is I can buy an MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL online package directly from that league and watch pretty much anything I want. But I can't do that with the CFL. You can watch the games on TSNGO but you have to have a cable subscription to that. There is a heavy trend to going exclusively online for entertainment. So the CFL better make sure that their games are available to all who may want it. I would suggest that this is contributing to the drop in numbers.

Mr Stoon said...

I believe the 3 NFL games in total brought in 899,000, not each.

Anonymous said...

It should't surprise anyone. With so much exposure the NFL through cable, video games and fantasy it was inevitable that the NFL would take over as Canada's preferred football league. Saskatchewan has done a terrific job of ingraining the team in the province's culture but everywhere else the CFL is loosing it's footing.

Let's just appreciate the CFL for what it is, the best minor pro football league in the world.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the lack of Wendys commercials during CFL broadcasts this year? I don't think they are a sponsor anymore. Friday Night Football might have a title sponsor but outside of that I don't think there's a sponsor for CFL games. Lack of corporate interest can't be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Well I'll be a whistlin dixie. Word in the laundromat is the Riders are trying super hard to sell more plaza tickets for tomorrow and friends of the riders lotto. Funny how folks stop buying stuff when the team is terrible.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't happen often but I'm with you on the Ratings thing Rod. As a CFL fan I want to see the league grow and succeed because its more fun for everyone when it does. Having lived through "Save Our Stamps" I'm familliar with the repurcussions of fan-deprived cash-starved football... Pro Tip: it sucks.

Anonymous said...

Typical - "flag waving laundromat redneck whistlin dixie".
Roughriders are going to do just fine wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Looking at this post's picture makes one wonder if Mike Reilly got a face masking major for his efforts. Just wondering.

Terrancek said...

TSN broadcasts are a joke. Watching grown men trying to act like 10 year olds looks like a fourth grade production. Trying to copy Shaq in the BA broadcasts is not working. Same crews doing broadcasts dilutes a already watered down game with penalties and challenges. No reviews for hand fighting in the NFL just player on player playing football. Let give the ball to the players and let them play the way game is met to be played. I watch both leagues but loose interest with the CFL while waiting to just watch the gam while watching replay after replay of a guy on the other end of the field with his hand on a guys hip. BORRRRIIINNNGGGG!!!!

Leo Ezerins said...

Rod. I am trying to remember when but the way viewership is measuredoing changed. So are you comparing apples to apples?