Since TSN expanded to 5 channels, CFL viewership has suffered with games shuttled from station to station. Fans never know for sure which station CFL games will be on and can be bumped to another channel (which many people don't subscribe to). This has contributed to a drop in CFL viewership.
When TSN got exclusive rights to CFL games they immediately dropped the CFL's popular "pay-per-view" service. Many fans outside Canada had relied upon this service to follow their CFL team.
Then TSN blocked anyone outside North American from watching archived CFL games from their website.
TSN has also blocked most fans in western Canada from watching archived CFL games over the past two seasons. Anyone with Shaw Cable, which has about 90% of the western cable market, is blocked from viewing archived games. Western Canada is the heartland of Canadian football and this makes it harder to follow their CFL team.
Now there's the issue of TSN radio blocking CFL games from being listened to on the internet. Early this season, when I tried to listen to an Argo game, I was greeted by a "check back momentarily" box. I checked back several times over few hours but the "check back momentarily" box kept coming up. This happened again and again over the first few weeks with all online TSN radio CFL broadcasts. I assumed this was due to Pan-Am game coverage and TSN didn't bother to provide a link or message to CFL fans about where the game could be listed to? I gave up trying to stream TSN radio of CFL games until Monday...and sure enough, I got a endless "buffering" message on both the RedBlacks and Argos TSN radio broadcasts. I have no trouble streaming CFL radio games on non-TSN stations on the internet.
When you click the Argos TSN 1050 radio link on the CFL website you are greeted by a "404-Page not found" page. Click on the new Ticats TSN 1150 radio link, the old CHML 930 website pops up. The Stampeders radio link also brings up a "404-Page not found" message and has for the past 3 seasons, after the station changed their call-sign and website. Very professional CFL.
I realize Bell/CTV/TSN is totally committed to growing the NFL, but is TSN really interested in growing their CFL audience or even keeping the fans they already have? It seems TSN gives the CFL only the minimum coverage considering they have the exclusive broadcasting rights. TSN saturates CFL broadcasts with NFL promos, Sunday night, Monday night and even CTV Sunday NFL games which run head-to-head against a TSN CFL game. TSN runs very slick promos for CTV's NFL games on the CFL but will rarely mention a CFL game which can also be watched in the same Sunday timeslot. Could this shunning be a subtle message to the league about scheduling Sunday CFL games up against their vaunted NFL? (CFL ratings routinely match or exceed the NFL on Sunday). I wonder if Bell runs equally dynamic and prolific CFL ads during CTV NFL games?
What is really going on here? Does Bell believe the CFL market has topped out or is withering away while they see larger growth potential in NFL broadcasts? So far, that strategy seems to be working. NFL viewership has grown steadily and impressively since TSN got exclusive CFL broadcasting rights. So if the CFL didn't exist or was diminished to senior lacrosse level, wouldn't that draw even more viewers to the NFL in Canada? If the NFL was as popular in Canada as in the U.S. wouldn't that substantially increase Bell's profits? Which mega-corporations are really in CFL's corner...not Rogers, that I'm sure of.
Some may point to Bell/MLSE2/3 purchasing the Argos...but as one powerful figure proclaimed "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."