William Houston had a post late last week which buttresses the argument the highers-up should be beating a path to try to form a partnership with the sister network.
"Digital networks are beginning to get distribution comparable to the analogs. TSN2, for example, which launched just a year ago, is now in four million households, and growing closer to the Score’s six million.Of course, the networks need a little production values: In basketball, that means more marquee matchups between the best teams. It means have full gyms for games and maybe trying to fill the lower bowl of an arena. The best basketball teams in the country are on par with mid-major NCAA Division I teams, it's time for the country to wake up to this ... but TSN2 isn't going to show more games just out of idealism.
"... It’s just a matter of time until TSN2 becomes the No. 3 sports channel in Canada, ahead of the Score and behind only TSN and Rogers Sportsnet. TSN2 is already the top sports digital in the market and ranks No. 3 overall among all the diginets. As well, the CBC is planning to launch its own sports digital channel a year from now."
The situation today is analogous with how NCAA basketball was 30 years ago (have I noted this before?), as described in Seth Davis' book When March Went Mad. College hoops had its dedicated local followings but got limited national exposure. Davis relates that one Indiana State player had friends who didn't know Larry Bird was white until they saw him play in the NCAA Tournament.
That 1979 final between Bird and Magic Johnson's teams brought the casual fan to NCAA basketball during the same year that ESPN launched and the "made-for-TV" Big East conference was created.
The digital age is making it easier to share information about basketball, so one would hope that would filter up to the sports networks, eventually. In a perfect world, instead of forcing fans to hunt around for boxscores the day after a basketball game, CIS would be trying to give broadcasters a more appealing tournament. An eight-team invitational in downtown Toronto at the start of the season or at Christmastime would be great, just to throw one spitball against the wall. Or creating a conference tournament in the OUA similar to those major NCAA conferences hold.
It would be unfortunate if The Score ends up playing left out. That happened in the NCAA, too. NBC had the tournament in the '70s; CBS swooped down in 1981. It happens, one company builds something up and another pounces.