NBC Sports Network picked up some new sports inventory Friday, signing a deal to broadcast 14 CFL games (including the playoffs and the Grey Cup championship game) this season. The Grey Cup game will be carried live, and it looks like most of the other broadcasts will be as well, except for some of the playoff games. The deal's beneficial to the CFL on a number of fronts, and it could help out NBCSN as well, but a lot will depend on their expectations and their marketing of it.
The CFL can provide a compelling football product, as seen by some of the highlights that frequently gain traction south of the border. It also has at least a partially built-in American fan base, as there are some who still follow the northern league avidly. However, that didn't translate into great ratings for the NFL Network over the last couple of years, and although the CFL was interesting enough for NFLN to expand its coverage last year in advance of the NFL labour dispute, the CFL programming was quickly bumped and dropped when the labour strife ended. NFLN and the CFL didn't work out a new deal this year, and although some of that might have been the league looking for a partner interested in televising the Grey Cup live, NFLN certainly didn't seem to fight too hard to keep the CFL. That, combined with the less-than-stellar ratings NFLN got, might suggest this won't necessarily be a stunning success for NBCSN.no comments