Before the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions line up to hear somebody most of us have never heard of sing the national anthem at Sunday's Grey Cup game, several records have already been set.
The game will be broadcast in a record number of countries. It will produce the highest Grey Cup TV ad revenue ever after the earliest commercial sellout in memory and will be televised using a record 32 cameras.
If the game can produce record ratings, the icing will be on the cake for CBC, which charged a record $75,000 for a 30-second ad. To do so, it would have to top the 4.3 million who watched the 2002 Montreal-Edmonton final on the CBC's English network. (Another million watched that game on French-language RDS.)
"We're confident that with both Montreal and B.C. audiences, interest will be strong," says Brad Furtney, CBC's director of national sales.
He's not concerned that the absence of the Toronto Argonauts will encourage many in the GTA to watch the NFL on Sunday instead.
"If you look at the top audience deliveries over the last 10 or 15 years, there's been a combination of teams," he says. "Toronto has only been in two of the top five audiences in that time."
Still, it would be nice to have all those Argo fans tuning in to CBC on Sunday. Last week's Argo-Alouette East final was watched by 258,500 viewers in the GTA, a pretty impressive number and more than double the highest NFL audience that day.
Toronto-area ratings for the West final hit 177,000, so there is obviously some interest in non-Argo games here.
Obviously, the CBC believes the interest is there if its schedule is any indication. Including the game, the CBC will carry 11 hours of Grey Cup programming over two days, equal to your average NFL game day.
Things will kick off with four hours of coverage tomorrow, starting at 2 p.m., and finishing with the Grey Cup parade at 5 (picture very cold cheerleaders in ski jackets.) Sunday's pre-game stuff gets rolling at 3 p.m. and includes an interview with Rocket Ismail, who gets to watch his 1991 winning kick return for the first time.
Regardless of how many people are watching, the CBC is going all-out on this game. It will have a record 32 cameras and will again use the CableCam that produced so many stunning images last November.
That's the same number of cameras used on Sunday and Monday night NFL games.
"Having this many cameras treats the game with the level of respect it deserves," says CBC executive producer Trevor Pilling. "It also helps us ensure that every aspect of the game is covered. Especially now with the addition of video review ... it's very important to make sure we're going to be able to provide the league with as many definitive angles as possible."
Though the forecast calls for game-time temperatures in the range of -1 to -8 C, Pilling has no concerns about weather messing up the show. In fact, he's praying for snow on game day.
"If we had a huge snowfall this week, it would slow us down in our preparation. But from my point of view, if it stayed dry right up until Sunday and then started to snow, it would look spectacular," Pilling said.
All the CBC needs now is a good game.
STAR ARGO: Argonaut running back and budding comedian John Avery will be guest star on this week's episode of the Comedy Network sitcom Punched Up (Wednesday, 10:30 p.m.). ... Leafs TV will focus on concussions and the pressure on injured plays in its 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. shows tomorrow. ... TSN continues to break new ground with its hockey coverage. Pierre McGuire interviewed players on the ice during breaks in Wednesday's Buffalo-Ottawa game. ... Rogers Cable has added NBA League Pass, the basketball equivalent of NHL Centre Ice.