Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The US Market and the CFL

I've been meaning to do a post about the CFL and exploiting the US market for a while. This article in the National Post about the NFL network going from carrying 14 games last year to two a week this year (38 games from a nine week season including bye weeks?) seems as good an excuse as any. Hopefully almost all of the games will be carried live, although this quote "The Canada Day game between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders will be tape delayed and air on July 2.", gives one pause. What are they airing when the game is actually being played? Taped delayed sports doesn't have a lot of value, for the reasons described in this Chuck Klosterman article in Grantland.

Now on to my main point. On my blog, the number of page views originating fomr the US is 40% of those from Canada (curiously Brazil is number four, I'm not sure if they're searching for CFL light bulbs or getting drawn in by Cleo "the Party" Lemon references). From a bit of analysis, it seems that Americans are often searching for info on former NCAA stars now toiling or being cut (Timmy Chang!) north of the border. Thus there appears to be a ready market of Americans interested at least a little in CFL football. Making it easy for them to watch a game would seem prudent, hence gettin more games on the NFL network is a good step.

One problem is that the players Americans are interested in are very diverse, from big famous schools to tiny universities no one has ever heard of outside their region. How does the CFL get the word out to these potential fans? Not easy, but I think in the long term the CFL needs to eventually move towards a internet streaming model, so that anyone who has an internet connection can watch any CFL game. That means adding in US commercials to games streamed to a US audience. Right now it is easier just to have an entity like the NFL network show the games and handle the ads, but if the CFL wants to maximize the value of the games in the US, it needs to move towards streaming them.

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