Who is the CFL's primary competition?

I'm curious as to who the CFL would consider its primary competition. The NFL? NHL? Major League Soccer?

It's really not as simple as A-or-B. The CFL competes for the limited entertainment dollar part of your wallet.

I personally think the best competitor for us to focus on is Netflix. How do we get people to want to transport themselves to a game (and back), pay to get in, buy a drink or two, and decide to do it again in the future - as opposed to a flat $12/mo to Netflix, not have to transport themselves anywhere, and be warm and comfy at home?


if netflix is as big as it is right now, then now (covid days) are the days to take advantage if its reach no? sell people on what they CAN and SHOULD do when they are given back their freedom :slight_smile:

There's some awareness marketing we could do, but personally I don't think ads that don't end with "NEXT GAME ON [DATE LESS THAN 1 WEEK AWAY] BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW STARTING AT $20" are very useful. People's memories are too short.

1 Like

I think in 2019 the league was starting to sell the party of the gameday experience. Unfortunately, covid derailed that, making it difficult to gauge how effective that angle was going to pay off. But that may work well again when it's safe to gather in crowds.

In addition to the sexy-young-party selling point, I think the league could target the relationships built among ST holders as a selling point. Show how ST holders can be from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds but forge a bond at the stadium that extends beyond it. That's not something that Netflix can offer.

They could also target rivalries again....focus on how office colleagues or neighbours come from various parts of Canada and have their home-team rooting interests which creates friendly rivalry and banter.

1 Like

I'll have to hunt for the article but it did very good analysis on how MLS impacts the three big markets and how fans spends sports dollars, which it did in a meaningful way. They drew a good correlation backed by data showing how as MLS improved in quality ticket sales went up proportionally to CFL's decline in sales in that market.

Each market has different dynamics as well, but I don't think it is coincidence that the cities CFL is least popular in are the cities with more sports options, and the markets where CFL is doing best have less.

Vancouver is certainly impacted by the NFL Seahawks in a way that Toronto is not, but Toronto had MLB when no others do and that covers the bulk of the season.

For TV eyeballs most folks who want to watch sports are going to gravitate towards the better product. So if its a CFL game vs an NHL one, well pretty sure hockey is going to win out every time no matter the market by a good margin. Psychology is gonna win out here typically, if youre spending your limited leisure time to watch sports, more often if you have an option you will pick the higher caliber product.

Sadly that means CFL for a lot of sports TV viewers is the last option. This gets into a difference between hardcore CFL fans vs sports entertainment fans in general which there are far more of.

Why a CFL in Quebec City would likely do better than Montreal, no competition for sports dollars. People are only going to spend so much on sports entertainment, if they aren't the season ticket holder type, then we are going to have a hard time attracting and retaining those butts in the seats when other options perceived to be a better product are available.

In the three major markets MLS appears to be the growing threat, in the rest its NHL and a few others have so unique dynamics due to proximity to the US or additional sports beyond those two.

Though at the end of the day CFL is a version of grid iron football, so for many they'll instinctively compare apples to apples, which is the NFL. They might be a green apple to our red, but that comparison is a natural one and that's hard to compete with.

It hurts us the psychological sense, if a sport interested person compares us to NFL they would see us as the inferior product, that thought then colors how then compare us to all other sports. We are going to be handicapped right out the gate with that negative subconscious association.

This will become worse once the XFL 3.0 gets started. I think folks would be most unwise to dismiss that leagues potential to attract talent away from the CFL, or at the very least create the perception that it is, thus whether true or not further perpetuates the negative when someone is comparing CFL to another option.

Most of this for general sports fans is not entirely conscious but still just as impactful. I assume the main question you're driving at is how we address that problem. Namely we have to change the perception of the quality and value of the product, get folks more emotionally invested and improve quality of play. Whether or not that is something that will happen is not something I am optimistic about, hopeful but far from confident.


The CFL's biggest competitor is itself.

It's not a matter of "taking fans away" from other sports, such as MLS or NFL.

It is a matter of making the fans of netflix, NFL, MLS, or whatever appreciate the CFL can be a fun time!

I truly don't think they are in direct competition with any sport. They are in direct competition with EVERYTHIG else available on a Friday night, or weekend afternoon.

CFL needs to promote the sport as being a fun outing, cheap, and easy to attend. Make it easy. Make it fun.

Bob Young understands. Hopefully other owners will follow suit.


You make some good points. Let's face it in places like Toronto the CFL is not seen as "major league" by young people.
I don't know how you change that, I think the marketing guys at MLSE and in other cities have been trying for a couple of years to try to get young people into the stadium.

1 Like

MLS is the biggest competitor to the CFL in Montreal, Toronto & Vancouver because all three have large immigrant populations plus their teams have an appeal to that demographic. Furthermore, do not underestimate the NBA.


The communal aspect of sports makes it a different animal because of team alliance to watching the game itself . Some fans have never been to the city they cheer for so the team somehow represents themselves in some aspect .

CFL's competition is the pro team sports that follow that same time spot on the calendar of the year .

Anything that is not on schedule is not competition . You can watch whatever whenever you want today while sports is a scheduled entertainment appointment .

Watching on TV or streaming media I would say NFL, baseball , soccer and now rugby for domestic and foreign leagues is a direct competitor . The NFL from September on is a huge product competitor for watching on TV and for many who can drive or fly in person viewing especially with the of ease and cost to travel today pre covid is now a factor to consider .

NCAA football is also starting to draw away many people who make the trek to watch a game in person .

In person locally it goes by city to city as they all face more or less team sports competition . Toronto the most and Regina the least .

Having been to a number of Cats games in Toronto, here are a few suggestions to improve the Argo game day experience:

  • Free Go Train with proof of ticket. Yes, Metrolinx and MLSE are not the same company, but I'm SURE something can be arranged. There is free HSR bus service in Hamilton to THF on gameday.

  • Shuttle bus from somewhere north of the city, closer to 401 and say, Young, or similar, to get fans from north down to the stadium. Return as well.

  • Better utilize the CNE grounds (when CNE is not going on). The walk from the train to the stadium is basically empty. Have booths, food stands, SOMETHING, setup. Have a DJ playing music. This is Toronto. You have to do 'more' than the other cities.

  • MLSE needs to flex their muscles and get some high profile Leafs and Raptors advocating for the CFL. Matthews and Lowry showing up to a CFL game, and being recognized at Half Time would be killer - especially if Hamilton is in town. Ottawa or Montreal not so, but Hamilton loves the Leafs and the Raptors! I've seen Raptor players at Leaf games, and Leafs players at Raptor Games. Why do we not have Argo's at the Leafs and Raptor games? (truly, it's like MLSE doesn't even try)

  • Something needs to be done with their in and out privileges at BMO. THF has in and out access at Half Time. This means the neighbourhood sets up food and drink "stations" for those going for a "walk" at halftime. Remember, certain consumable products are now legalized. Many people (we have done it with extras) use multiple tickets during a game, so they can go out and back in. Sounds silly, but we generally buy four tickets for a game in Toronto. Two for wife and I, two for friends. Sometimes we can't get friends and we just bring the tickets. Easy in and out - but unnecessary.

  • Corporate, corporate, corporate. My company owns season tickets the Leafs and Raptors. That basically gives us free season tickets to the toronto soccer team. I know, my company is always emails employees trying to get away TFC tickets. Why not include season tickets to the Argos in the same pack. Why give away TFC and not CFL? Going forward I can certainly see our 20 something employees wanting to get out and do SOMETHING (when things reopen). Give the companies who spend $250K+ yearly on Raptors and Leafs seasons some free season tickets to the Argos! I sat ON THE FIELD for a TFC game two years ago. Free booze, food, and we able to meet the team after. Just through some corporate thank you from MLSE to our company. I'm sure they do this with all their corporate partners.

  • Argo / Tiger Cat ticket packages. For non season ticket holders, have a package deal where you buy a ticket pack of all the games between Toronto and Hamilton. Deeply discount it so your almost going to the Argo games for free.

I could keep going on and on but I've written enough.

Notice NONE of those ideas have anything to do with changing the game. These ideas like changing the playoff format, removing the rouge, yadda yadda will NOT attract younger fans. They truly don't care about anything that gets argued about on here. No one sits and says "I'm not going to the Argo game because of the playoff crossover"...

I hope to see the Tiger-Cats succeed and flourish. In order for that to happen, the league as a whole needs to succeed. (and the argo's are still part of that league, so they need to do better!)


Great ideas on dual home and home series ticket sales , corporate sales , transportation , MLSE and game day atmosphere .

Agree with everything on that end which I believe will be effective .

On the last note however we conflict ;

The pace of the three down game and making it different from the four down version with a quicker pace and less player tear down and set up is something worth at least testing and experimenting with giving the fan a better product that gets more youth playing here with the hope of playing at the highest level right here in Canada .

Not advocating any changes just for the sake of change but do advocate that the CFL has the infrastructure to test the tweaking of some aspects that would make the game easier to play , safer , faster and more efficient .

Improving the product from the bottom up .

See what sticks and what you can toss in the can .

The experimentation behind closed scrimmages is something I advocate .

Research and proper testing when your selling entertainment is a worthy cost when your selling anything .

If I was a private owner entering this league it would be a stipulation that this is done yearly and report on the results found on the field in person and broadcasted .

It could be a easy way to invest in the junior leagues and get something back in return with research results if they are used to experiment and as a result they receive a monetary benefit or infrastructure investment in return . win/win .

Definitely agree those pro sports are competition as they are more global , cost less and require no learning curve to enjoy immediately . They can identify readily with those sports .

They are stiff competition with that particular demographic .

I would argue MLB is the primary rival to CFL just based on when they play. Even with Blue Jays poor seasons (but in strong seasons MLB is dominant)

I applaud MLS at making it (a few years ago soccer was a non-entity in North America, now they are actually drawing fans and making money; probably more money than CFL is in merchandising)
I just don't see soccer as becoming the main spring-summer sport though. Despite inroads made its still a minor league sport, even to its target demographics who would much rather watch Euro / South American / Asian teams on satellite / IPTV)

NHL is #1 in Canada (but its winter to early spring) and dwarfs NFL (#2 winter) and NBA (distant #3 despite Raptors elevating the leagues cred, its still mainly a GTA sport)

Toronto really is weird
In 70s and early 80s the Argos were a BIG deal
(heck they even had a packed parade the year they LOST the Grey Cup to Edmonton, never mind when they actually won) *edit 1982 + 1983

But in general Toronto fans are not sports fans
They go where winners are

The Leafs are the ONLY exception to this rule (and barely, even Leafs have had a dip in recent years albeit a slight one)

But Raptors, TFC, Argos, Rock? Fans come when team wins. Period.
And they are PACKED with free corp tickets. Listening to the conversations or hearing people explaining what is happening in the game just makes my head hurt. People go where it is cool to be seen. Even for Leafs I would bet as many as half the people in stands are not fans.

The NFL domination really did not actually occur until mid to late 80s
Prior to the CFL (& USFL) were holding their own
Now $$$$ situation is insane and the NFL can afford to hire a CFL all-star to hold a clip board or sit on the bench

Toronto keeps thinking they "deserve" an NFL team, but historically the WLAF gave a team to Montreal (so as not to compete with CFL) and the Bills + Skydome experiment was a total flop.
No fans + poor tv ratings? Putting an NFL team in Canada does nothing to benefit the league.

To be honest, you saw how quick NBA yanked Vancouver's team. I would not at all be surprised if Raptors stay in Tampa Bay permanently. American fans don't care about Canada. American players don't like playing in Canada.

1 Like

But the Argos/MLSE have tried most of what you have listed. For at least the past 3 seasons they have the $20 per ticket special, you pay $20 and you can sit almost anywhere. They do pre-game concerts and cheap $4 beers at the Shipyard and that's in addition to the pre-game tail gate party in the parking lots. We have parked in the CNE grounds and across the road at Ontario Place, a lot of parking on the grounds and nearby, better than most stadium areas I have been to. Also taken the GO transit right to the stadium and it's cheap, also the TTC street car to LIberty Village pre-game and eaten there. With Argo tickets so cheap I don't know why MLSE would want to give fans free transport.
Is there any stadium in Canada that has, tons of parking, a rail station, subway stop nearby, bus service, a highway running by it, thousands of people that live within walking distance to the stadium?
The Argos brought in a Rapper for a half time show and they have had country singers, rock bands. Also went to the Doug Flutie bobble head night and he was signing autographs.
MLSE and the CFL did a lot of marketing with the ads on the TTC the TV ads with the Argo player running through the Princes Gates etc They have had "free" pre-season games for kids. The Argos also do a lot of work in the community.

I really don't think they can do much more in Toronto, everything has been tried. Maybe sometime in the future young people will embrace the Argos and it would be "cool" to go to a game.


Actually not everything has been tried yet.

One big thing they haven't tried yet is to move out to a new/exisiting stadium, of where it's been suggested where their fanbase actually is - that being in the suburban parts of the city. :grin:

I have long suggested that they try Markham

Sources indicate ; they did take your suggestion up FYB but had trouble finding the 150 million dollar CFL stadium in Markham .

Could you tell them where this stadium is so they can get on with the move .

did you pick up on apples_140 saying new/existing, with the implication that new means yet to be built?