The Canadian Football League is working to extend its relationship with a major television partner in the United States.
“(CFL chief marketing, digital and strategy officer) Christina Litz and I went down to ESPN in December and started discussions about renewing the agreement. We had a follow-up meeting at the Pro Bowl,” commissioner Randy Ambrosie told the Ottawa Sun.
ESPN is in favour of changing the CFL schedule so that the season begins and ends earlier in the calendar year, an idea Ambrosie first floated at Grey Cup last November.
“They like the idea of a season shift, they like the idea of a bunch of our content being post-NFL Draft and pre-NFL and college season. They like our game. We talked a lot about tapping into their big college market. So many of our players have been stars in U.S. college football. They are a huge college football broadcaster. We talked about how we can do more so the fans in Alabama and Florida know that one of their star players is playing in Ottawa or playing in Calgary or playing in Toronto and they’re playing in a game this weekend. We agreed we would keep moving forward to a long-term contract,” Ambrosie said.
Alternate ways of getting the three-down game out to consumers has been discussed.
“We aren’t going to ignore what’s happening in social media. If I’m correct, Facebook made a bid for Indian cricket (for $610 million). That’s just evidence of a completely changing landscape. I wouldn’t ask Facebook for anything more than about $300 million if we were talking to them. Of course, I’m smiling,” Ambrosie said.
“ESPN has some capabilities that are incredibly impressive. They are changing their platform to address the changing viewing habits. That was some of what we have been talking about, what are they doing to address the changes … so much consumption is happening on mobile devices. They wanted us to know how they think that could help us drive a bigger TV audience in the U.S.”