Basketball: Men's final averages just 35,000 viewers on TSN2

It is as if TSN2 needed every last viewer, that must be why it blocked SSN Canada. As Chris Zelkovich notes:
"As for the CIS, as good a tournament as it is, Sunday's final attracted an average of 35,000 on TSN2 -- a 40 per cent increase over what The Score drew last year."
Some would say, focus on the positive. However, about half of that 40% increase comes from the new rating metric (Personal People Meters, or PPM) which came into effect last year. Ratings for everything are up by a minimum 20% across the board.

The 2008 Acadia-Carleton semi-final also had a peak audience of 93,000 under the old ratings metric. Point being, 35,000 viewers for a national final, which granted, lacked an Ontario team to make the country's population centre care, is not where the bar should be set for this event. It is to be expected when there is poor promotion and the TV coverage of the tournament is hijacked by puckheads who don't understand the first thing about basketball. That said, by most accounts, Rod Black and Leo Rautins were superb on the call of the tournament. Black is still bringing it sinc the Olympics ended.

By the way, does anyone else get tired of the national media dropping in (that's the meaning of "drive-by media") and proclaiming some CIS championship result an upset when it wasn't an upset? Alberta beating McGill in the women's hockey final was not an upset. The Pandas shut out their first two opponents at nationals, too. Saskatchewan over Carleton in men's hoops was not an upset, seeing how Ravens coach Dave Smart called the Huskies "the best team here" prior to the game. The same went for seventh-seeded Calgary beating No. 2 Cape Breton in the first round. The Dinos and Capers were given near-identical odds of winning the Final 8. Some even called Queen's beating Calgary in the Vanier Cup an upset, when most people who pay attention (i.e., all the bloggers) just saw a very even matchup, with the eastern team winning a game played in an eastern city.

Only speaking for one person here, but I feel a lot of guilt; we must not be doing our job very well.
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  1. I guess that blocked SSN coverage really resulted in a lot of new TSN2 subscribers...

  2. There are people —— some Shaw subscribers, for example, like my place of employment out in Saskatoon —— who have TSN but don't have TSN2 in their cable package. That couldn't have helped.
    Me thinks part of the problem of TV coverage of CIS national championships is that, in most cases (other than football and TV coverage of that is even more limited than it should be), it's a one-shot, once-a-season deal and there's no chance to build up a following or excitement.
    Here's an idea that hopefully the CIS and one network, be it Score, Sportnet or TSN, looks at.
    Why couldn't there be a CIS game of the week ALL season, including especially football, men's hockey and basketball games?
    Why not try to get a handle on that for marketing the product?
    I'd be a big fan of that.

  3. It's a good question ... nowadays you need a HD truck and those are pretty hard to get. Honestly, we're better off to keep getting schools to videocast and hopefully traditional media borrows some of that.

  4. I posted this on a basketball discussion list:

    Chris Zelkovich of the Star reports an audience of 35 000 for the CIS Final on TSN2 on Sunday, which, numbers wise are far from great. NCAA basketball and NBA basketball drew audiences five times larger than the CIS Now the good news is that represents a 40% increase on The Score's production last year. The bad news is that with the new ratings system in place, all of the audience numbers have been increasing across the board. Lets accuentuate the positive, rather than dwell on the negative and maybe dwell on some solutions rather just lash out and complain. A lot of these comments echo the savvy sentiments of the likes of Howard Bloom and also Mike Aylward. The potential for growth is there for the CIS, but clearly the gains and outlook have to be modest. Here are the issues as I see them:

    1. Scheduling: Running the tournament up against March Madness does the CIS no favours. Unfortunately, there is not much you can really do, save for cramming things in and running the tournament a week earlier. Of course you would have to bump the women's tournament back a week too.

    2. Location. I will always say that it was a good move to take the tournament away from Halifax for the short term, but I think some of the charm and quaintness was lost with the move to Ottawa. There is a vibrancy and a buzz around Halifax that I'm not sure was matched by Ottawa- not to say that Ottawa was not a good host, but I think Halifax made for better TV

    3. Covering only the final: Doing what I call a one-off and expecting huge numbers is unrealistic. If you build your product over the year on a bigger media platform, then the casual fan will be more fammiliar with your product and your athletes. Again, tough to get regular coverage.

    Solutions: SSN is a great start, so are local TV broadcasts. I work with the OHL and all their games are on the Cogeco Super Sports pack grouped with all the pro-sports. Maybe the CIS can get on board there, or get a game of the week going again. Again, more idealistic than realistic. I would start with solidifying local coverage and building outward. SID's need to get their butts in gear and start promoting the athletes on both a national and local platform. Game reports are great ,but are you really selling your sport or just providing only the information?

    Again, the product is viable and media friendly. However, it is acknowledged that Rome was not built in a day.

    Steve Clark

  5. Holding the tournament in Ottawa would have been a swell idea...
    if it actually was held in Ottawa proper, ei, Lansdowne..
    Kanata is literally the place fun forgot.
    A sprawling, big box store-strip mall bedroom community, Kanata projects about as much soul as Michael Bolton.
    And the big rink is so far removed from Kanata itself it has its own
    highway interchange almost a mile down the road.
    Step out of the Metro in Halifax, there are dozens of places to eat or have
    a brew within easy walking distance of the arena.
    If you wanted to eat in between games at SBP, there's Bert's Bar and Frank Finnegan's serving up overpriced fare,
    or you have to hop into a rented car to go in and out of SBP's pay parking lot to look for a restaurant about a half mile away.
    There was no shuttle provided from the university to get students there.
    Is it any wonder most of the crowds were older local die hards?
    At least what few paying customers there were weren't getting frisked by
    security like the first year the tournament was here.
    In short, b-ball fans were treated the same way Sens fans are...shabbily.
    It was no surprise to me to see steep declines in attendance because
    frankly, there was little to entice visiting fans to come back.

  6. Drive-by-media ... I think that's a thinly veiled slam at we poor struggling bloggers. You don't call # 5 Saskatchewan over # 1 Carleton an upset? Did you see the U of S at the top of the rankings all season ? Were they the defending National Champions ? Were the Huskies exploits covered by multiple columns every time they hit the court. I'm sure I remember the theme just prior to the Final 8 ... let's be sure we don't match-up the 2 best teams from the OUA, and play the Final before Sunday.
    Yes, Saskatchewan finished an incredible 2nd half of the season, but they were flying well under the radar until very late in February . This was an upset, at least until they proved they were the best team there !

  7. Wayne,

    By way of explanation, "drive-by media" is an semi-inside joke a broadcaster friend and I have for the national media who only cover CIS around the time of national championships. It is not directed at bloggers in the slightest! It's 180 degrees removed from that.

    Saskatchewan was underestimated all season and as such, what they did was less an upset than an underappreciated team earning its due, many times over. If people want to say upset, that's fine, everyone has her/his own definition.

    My definition is you have to beat a team which is more formidable. Some would say it has to be a team considered more formidable. By the latter standard, what Saskatchewan did was an upset, because as you point out, they weren't highly ranked and were seeded fifth (although you'll recall our whole panel seeded them second or third).

    By the first started, it was merely a team which had not got enough publicity earning its due.

    For the record, I took the Huskies and Dinos to win on Friday while working for SSN. For the semis, Mark Masters took UBC and Saskatchewan, so I was obliged to take Calgary and I can't recall who I had in the other game. I honestly don't recall if I said Carleton or Saskatchewan. Both of us took the Huskies in the final.

  8. I guess this comes down to the difference between reputation and a team's actual strength, the latter being tough to measure.

    On reputation, Saskatchewan over Carleton is an upset. In actual talent, not as much.

  9. Steve-o mentioned the possibility of CIS sport on the cable network's super-sport packages and I'm somewhat intrigued. I'm usually pretty dismissive of the pie-in-the-sky vision of national CIS coverage as a cure-all to visibility issues--I sincerely doubt that national coverage will lead to capturing the local markets, which are not full utilized now and should be everyone's first objective--but the super-sports packages from Rogers and Cogeco do a great service to the OHL. Granted, the OHL is a brand that stands semi-connected to its big pro brother, to say nothing of it's connection to the nation's sporting passion and heritage, but there has to be possibilities availible for the CIS in that package-type of format. I love the flavour and variety of the OHL broadcasts and wonder, hopefully, if the same could be accomplished with CIS sports. I still believe that its essential that a football game-of-the-week is available on one of the national, big boy broadcasters--no one has demonstrated the passion or proficiency that the Score has so far, God Bless Tim Micallif. However, a CIS package in a super-sports format is interesting.

    Happy Slide