Canadian college basketball fans are being better served than fans specifically of Canadian university basketball.
Someone with the Rogers VIP digital package or equivalent could have channel-surfed between at least nine U.S. college games last Saturday. TSN2 picked up ESPN's afternoon telecasts of Syracuse-West Virginia and North Carolina-Georgia Tech. Rogers Sportsnet Pacific had a Pac-10 game. There were also regional games from CBS and Peachtree TV (the Atlanta-based station you depend on for badly censored versions of your favourite movie comedies), plus live games on the Big Ten Network.
So, where is CIS basketball in the grand scheme? That question is not just for programmers, but for the highers-up at the national headquarters in Ottawa. TSN, Sportsnet and The Score pick up NCAA rights on the cheap, but they would not bother if they did not believe there were a sizable portion of hoops fans. A true hoops fans also knows the best teams in Canada play on something approaching a mid-major D-1 level, and if the talent is not there, using the FIBA rules with the 24-second shot clock makes for a much better-flowing game than a lot of NCAA contests.
TSN2 will soon have the all-clear to run "as much first-run programming as it wants" (Truth & Rumours). From our out-on-the-fringe perspective, that raises the question of how much live coverage there will be when TSN airs the CIS basketball championships (March 12-14 in Hamilton for the women, March 19-21 in Ottawa for the men). With two feeds, TSN should be able to block out space to at least air the semi-finals and finals of both tournaments.
You will recall from the Vanier Cup coverage that TSN seemed less than engaged, especially compared to the enthusiasm people had come to expect from The Score. Just doing it is enough for them. TSN practically has a Jay Leno attitude with CIS coverage: It wants it, but can't really say why beyond that it means someone else won't get the chance.
Point being, one would hope that with everything happening in the Canadian broadcasting industry, CIS will hitch itself to the right wagon. TSN2 has had a great launch; Houston notes, "In the December ratings, it ranked second among all the digital channels, behind only National Geographic."