Football: TSN gets its mitts on bowls, Vanier Cup; what about basketball?

It was a throw-in paragraph that easily could have been missed, but after three seasons on The Score, the Vanier Cup has returned to TSN (with Radio-Canada having the French-language broadcast):
"The national semi-finals and the 45th Vanier Cup final will be televised on both TSN and Radio-Canada."
Some users have posited that this is a small, pitched battle as part of the cable wars. CTV GlobeMedia would love to establish its one-year-old TSN2 as a full-time channel instead a specialty service customers have to pay extra to receive (especially if Rogers is your cable provider, cough). Buying up the rights to niche leagues is a means to that end. The CRTC would like to see more from TSN2 than re-airs of the games which were on TSN earlier in the day. It probably also would like to see more than sticking Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays games on TSN2 just to make Rogers a convenient scapegoat when fans are shut out from watching their teams.

No doubt some you will remember that TSN's coverage in the past often left the impression it was only airing games out of noblesse oblige. What might have changed from just a few years ago is that the CFL, TSN's TV partner, now sees university football as a way for the public to get to know to some of the league's future players. That connection has not always been that strong.

The other question which hangs off this is whether TSN is interested in university football or university sports. The traditional media has largely been out to lunch on the reality that men's basketball (and in the Maritimes, men's hockey) has displaced football as the most compelling university sport to follow.

Basketball has more good teams and good players than it did a decade ago. The timing is also good. There have been two seminal games on the national stage, Acadia's 2008 double-overtime win over Carleton and the Ravens' buzzer-beating win over Western last March. Who knows, maybe-just-maybe someone said, "We have to get in on that."

As well, the coaching is more professional and there is more balance across all conferences than in football or hockey. It also does not suffer from the perception-is-reality that who is going to be in the national championship is a foregone conclusion (Carleton has won one more title in basketball than Laval's football team, but there is no perception there that the Ravens have an institutionalized advantage). One would hope more broadcast outlets in Canada follow The Score's lead and tap that root. In 2007, TSN aired only one semi-final from the men's Final 8; in '08, it did not even include the score from Capital Hoops Classic in Ottawa in its ticker during SportsCentre.

It's another point to figure out where this leaves the other two sports networks. The Score can still continue with an OUA package since the conference pays much of the freight. Sportsnet did an alright job with the University Cup men's hockey championship. The bottom line is all three networks are seeing some value in the CIS product. That is a positive.

Laval leads the way in CIS preseason football rankings (TSN)
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  1. I'm torn on this matter, since I'm glad that the Bowl games and Vanier will receive better coverage across the country but I really appreciate the work that The Score had done with covering the big games. IF this does lead to regular coverage of games on TSN2, and to expanded coverage of CIS sports in general (basketball, hockey, etc) then I'll sing a different tune. That'd be great to see happen but almost seems too good to be true in a way coming from TSN.

  2. Too bad TSN got the games; The Score covers CIS like it should be covered

    Have to disagree about only AUS men's hockey being compelling; it is right across Canada,

    Finally have to disagree with Sportsnet's coverage of Men's U Cup this past March in T Bay; it was apologist style and showed Major Jr. Stats graphics for players from four seasons previous to last year...

  3. You misread ... the point was in Atlantic Canada, hockey is a more marquee than basketball in terms of media attention. In much of the rest of Canada (because there are always exceptions), basketball is the most compelling game to follow.

    If you tracked the media coverage, though, football far and away gets the most coverage in traditional media. That should change with the times.