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109th Grey Cup Sees Increased Average Audience, but How Can the CFL Reach Beyond Canada?

The 109th Grey Cup saw a tremendous underdog victory secured by the Toronto Argonauts in the last minute against the ever-dominant Winnipeg Blue Bombers. As a final should, the 2022 Grey Cup perfectly showcased how exciting the sport of Canadian football is and how close the games can be when two of the best meet.

Importantly for the health of the CFL, this report from the broadcasters showed increased viewership on the 2021 edition. The 109th Grey Cup boasted an average audience of over 3.1 million – more than a 7 percent increase – with total viewership hitting 8.2 million people in Canada. That said, the average audience for the 100th Grey Cup in 2012 was reported to be 5.5 million on TSN.

As has become fashionable in North American sports leagues, the CFL will be looking for ways to grow its audience and even achieve a more global reach. Luckily, there are proven routes to explore for this.

Jump on the docu-series bandwagon

If there’s one outlet that sports teams have quickly come to as a way to expand their reach, it’s the docu-series. Going beyond an hour-long special like the Rivalries documentary based on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts, a docu-series tends to follow a team in a tough stretch behind the scenes, filming all of the worst moments that most don’t get to see.

Right now, Prime Video appears to have positioned itself as the main name in sports docu-series. The All or Nothing series that has seasons on Manchester City, the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Brazil National Team, and several others looks to be the best way to raise the profile and reach of the CFL in this way, likely following the Argonauts or perhaps the downtrodden Ottawa Redblacks.

Getting into the gaming space

When it comes to American football, the Madden video game series from EA rules to roost, but there’s precious little by way of a quality management sim, akin to Football Manager for soccer. If they invest in a strong studio, an officially licensed CFL management sim on PC could become the go-to game of that genre for the sport of gridiron football, perhaps even expanding to include the NFL in the future.

Alternatively, and with much less effort, the CFL could explore its licensed gaming options in the world of online casinos. As there are so many platforms out there, review sites perform thorough research to ensure your safety when gambling online. It’s because of these that people around Canada and the world feel comfortable playing online slots – particularly the licensed ones based on movies. So, the CFL could find a home here with an official slot.

Taking the CFL overseas

For the 2022 campaign, the CFL reached international streaming agreements with BT Sports and ESPN to reach the UK and Ireland. So, perhaps there’s an audience in the British Isles, and if so, that means that an international game could be beneficial.

Prior to the NFL going over to London regularly, it was very much a niche, if not ignored, league in the UK. Baseball even more so before it came to London in 2019, but all instances of the MLB, NBA, and NFL coming to the UK have proven successful for fanfare and ticket sales. Even the NHL Global Series has found an avid audience as far away as the Czech Republic.

A CFL international series seems to be the longest shot of all of these options, but the major leagues have proven that, even with the tiniest footprint in a place like the UK, a successful event can still be staged. Before that, though, a docu-series and games look to be the clearer paths to expanding the CFL’s reach.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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