CFL Commish wants a piece of the American pie

CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge wants a piece of American sports

[b]- Before joining the CFL as its commissioner last year, Jeffrey Orridge spent a decade working in the American sports industry. As an executive with USA Basketball and Reebok Sports Marketing, among other positions, he witnessed the frenzied growth of professional sports in the U.S. during the 1990s and 2000s.
And now, quite simply, Orridge wants some of that for the CFL. A league that many Americans view as a quirky sideshow is looking for ways to push into a consciousness near you.

"We want to be a truly globally recognized league," Orridge said by phone recently. "And that doesn't have to mean playing the Canadian game outside of Canadian soil. What it does mean is marketing, promoting and exporting it to other parts of the world. The ultimate goal we have is to be globally recognized beyond our borders."
It's not difficult to understand why. Playing what is in essence the same game, the NFL has pushed its annual revenues past $13 billion. Recent estimates of CFL revenues among its nine teams, based on the numbers reported by its three publicly owned franchises, is approximately $200 million per year.

How Orridge will shepherd the CFL into the global market is less obvious. Part of the process will require navigating a parochial fan and media base that is wary of corporatizing of a league that traces its origins to the late 1800s -- well before the NFL's founding in 1920. Orridge, for instance, received criticism after using the 2015 Grey Cup platform to announce new branding and logo designs rather than focusing on internal issues facing the league -- most notably a season played without a drug policy.
"The time has come," Orridge announced at the time, "to update and transform the way we present ourselves."

A new drug policy has since been adopted, and Orridge wants to portray the CFL as a fast-paced and innovative league that opens its season during the dead time of the NFL calendar, features more than 50 percent American players and boasts a fan-friendly emphasis on the passing game that well exceeds the NFL's proportions.
Orridge speaks with a marketer's ease, suggesting that elevating interest is simply "about exposure and awareness." He wants the world to see "not only this unique brand of football, but also the athletes that Americans have known throughout college and have continued their careers in the CFL.

Is the CFL an American-ready sport, set to be consumed more broadly if only it is shared and promoted more strategically? I'm not sure anyone can say that yet. But the dominance of the NFL is too compelling to ignore. The CFL won't match its popularity, but it certainly has room to grow.[/b]

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I can see some of this happening. I live in the states but travel to Canada for business quite often. While I follow the CFL year around, most of the people that I know that watch the CFL on ESPN during the summer, switch over to the NFL once the season starts. That gives the CFL July and part of August to catch America's attention. Once the NFL and college football starts, nobody except die-hard CFL fans is going to be watching the CFL. I don't see a real wide window here.

Yup....they should be kicking off in April. that put the Cup in September...rolling right into NFL rampup. I know that the big bottlekneck is rookies...but there are ways to get around that and they could actually turn into big plusses. Obviously option A is that they simply miss the out on that season and start fresh the next year...but a better option that I think would be pretty neat would be to have a league wide bye for draft weekend...doing this, you would be able to air it and get pretty good money in the pocket really. From there, the drafted players could come in and stay on the roster for the rest of the season as non-SMS counters. You set some sort of salary limit for first year players to avoid funny business with contracts. You make it so that if they make the 46 X times in the remainder of the season that their salary or a portion of it hits cap, and you make it so that a rookie can't be plucked from a PR. This gives players 2/3 of a season to practice with the club and really learn...then they come into camp the next year much more competitive. There are players that come in simply not ready...but if they had more time might turn some heads. This gives them a pay beyond the PR pay in that first bit and even if the odd player ends up developing better than they would in the month they get leading into the season as a rookie that is a boost to ratio can only improve the quality and availability of new NI players coming in.

The CFL would be destroyed by NHL playoff games for months, no chance of that happening. It's perfectly fine the way it is.

NHL playoff games aren't on everyday. At least the ones with Canadian teams playing.

No way the league should have an April start just to cater to the US market. Even then, it would struggle for attention with baseball in full swing and both NHL and NBA playoff on top of it.

Alienating the core business in search for a new one is not a way to grow the league. ESPN or any US network still have the summer months and they could do Friday games once the NFL and NCAA season starts. Add Playoffs/Grey Cup too and they can build their niche

If there were 3 or 4 series involving Canadian teams in Round One and a couple advanced to Round Two - then yes there would be a Canadian team playing almost every day from mid-April through to mid-May. And if the Leafs were one of those teams those nights would be likely 3 million watching hockey.

Eg. I went back and looked at 2015 playoffs schedule when Ottawa - Montreal, Calgary - Vancouver met in first round and the Jets also made the playoffs. There were at least one hockey game involving Canadian teams on each of April 15, 16, 17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,30. May 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,12.

It would be suicide for the CFL to go up against that. And as Mightygoose mentioned that is not even including the Jays games and potential Raptors playoff games on top of those hockey games during that time frame.

I have little doubt that multiple Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs would hurt the CFL ratings...likely a 20% dip...but if you truly want a bigger piece of the American market then you provide football when there is none.

Not saying it is the right move overall...simply saying that is how you snatch up US viewers easier

If you want to look just at lose 150k...heck...200k for 6 weeks or so...but likely get to above 600k in the US pretty you are up in numbers and therefore up in contract dollars

NHL in the US football markets is not exactly are up against early season baseball.....whoop. basketball playoffs creates competition but there are a pile of people that would choose football over it

God help the CFL if they push the season up into April and a Canadian team makes it all the way to the finals. If by a miracle that team is the Leafs, the CFL would effectively vanish from the media until mid June.

I agree Tridus. There would be almost ZERO CFL media coverage up here through half its season - especially if the Leafs made a run. Heck when the Leafs forced a Game 7 against Boston IN THE FIRST ROUND a couple of years ago - about 30 minutes of 60 minute local newscasts were Leafs related and 9 of 10 minutes of the sports section of those newscasts was Leafs, Leafs, Leafs. 23 of 24 hours on sports radio was Leafs related - and about 20 pages of a 24 page sports section in the Sun was Leafs related.

And that was just forcing a Game 7 in Round One!

Wow you guys think that all of Canada is interested in the Leafs?
That we are all going to forget everything and watch the Leafs because they are doing a Stanley Cup run?
It's funny how you guys in the GTA think that Toronto is the centre of the universe.

Well considering the National sports channels are based in Toronto. Sporscentre and Sports Central were even originating from Maple Leafs Square on the night of Game 6 in Toronto of that Toronto - Boston series. Between Leafs and other Canadian teams in the playoffs that year about 50 minutes of one hour long SportsCentre programs were Leafs/NHL related. And let's face it - with the Leafs if they were to actually make a playoff run - TSN and Sportsnet know that talking about the Leafs - would increase their ratings by tens of thousands for ALL their programming - the CFL would disappear.

The CFL would be lucky to get a page on Page 20 of sports sections of Southern Ontario Sun Newspapers. And you might get a one play highlight of a CFL game on Ontario newscasts - which are 1/3 of the population of the country.

I would assume also if the Flames were in the playoffs - coverage of the Flames and the Red Mile would overwhelm Stamps coverage. Same in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa.

It would be suicide for the CFL to start in April.

Moving the season earlier to try to get better ratings in the US, is simply wrong.
First of all, how many spring football leagues have failed in the US. Not just in attendance but also with little to no one watching on TV.

Also, NHL playoffs are a legitimate concern, and not just because the leafs. Ratings are generally higher when there is a Canadian Team in the playoffs. Just as it is silly for the CFL to have games on at the same time as HNIC Saturday Nights, which is regular season games as stated in earlier posts, the media converage of the NHL playoffs would completely blanket any CFL season launches.

Not only should the CFL priority be Canada, as it is a Canadian league, they should working with TSN, and putting a foot down when it comes to scheduling. Friday Night game, Saturday afternoon games (during HNIC season), and late Sunday afternoon games. From the ratings I have seen Travel Pat put up the last couple of years, the CFL seems to fare better vs the NFL than HNIC.

I live in New Brunswick, but thanks for assuming. We like to think we're big time out here. :cowboy:

The cold, hard facts of the matter are that the Leafs are the highest ratings drawing sports franchise in Canada. That's just reality. They draw more media attention than any other team in any league in Canada. When they're competitive, they utterly dominate the media landscape. The sports networks and the national media are based in Toronto, and every time the Leafs have had a playoff run, they dominate the coverage. TSN has been called the "Toronto Sports Network" for a reason.

If the CFL season moves into April and the Leafs make a playoff run, the CFL will get utterly buried in the top media market in the country, in the national sports networks, the national newspapers, and the chains that rely on centrally produced stories for content. That's true even when another NHL team makes the playoffs: the Leafs generate more coverage than any other NHL team. (Amusingly, part of that is because the Leafs have so many haters that resent the coverage and click on it to complain about it, thereby generating more traffic and more coverage.)

It's not like it's an isolated thing in Toronto, but Toronto's impact is oversized. If the Habs make a run, the Als will get buried in Montreal. Ditto with, well basically everywhere except Saskatchewan (Hamilton could get local coverage, but a lot of the other stuff comes from Toronto and would be drowned by the Leafs).

People who want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend like the media landscape in Canada is something other than what it is really shouldn't offer up scheduling suggestions.

Come on the leafs in the final... LOL must be a dreamer.... LOL... just kidding!! :twisted:

I did say it would be a miracle. :slight_smile:

He doesn't provide much in the way of details. Assuming that an April start is a part of his plan is a stretch at this point.

Re : CFL Commish wants a piece of the American pie

Wanting and getting are 2 different things.