COVID-19 : How it could impact Lions/CFL

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I may be one of the few people who paid for a PPV telecast of a Lions game when that format was tried In the late ‘80s. I doubt that enough people signed up to cover the production costs, which were estimated at about $50,000 per game at the time. The experiment died a quiet death.


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Huge Talent wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:24 pm
I'm surprised that pay per view in empty stadiums hadn't been an option on the table.

Maybe it's not worth the cost of setting up on a temporary basis.

The canucks did ppv back in the 2000s, was around $10 iirc.

I suppose it's more profitable to include the game for free and increase viewership and thus ad revenue. So this should theoretically be no different.

The league will do what they do, but whether you get a refund or not isn't going to be the difference Imo.

Commissioner made a great point about the league getting their house in order financially. I'm a lions and cfl fan and supporter, but if my $1500 is keeping things afloat, there are systemic issues beyond anything I can help with. Just mho
I found an old article on that the other day. When the Canucks did that it was for games that were not available on regular cable channels. They charged $9.95. The Canucks had to cover production costs of roughly $50K/game with any other profits being split between them and the television providers who would air them. They managed to top out at 26,000 subscribers to ante up so roughly $258K in revenue per game less $50K in production costs and split the remainder with the provider equals roughly $100K in profit. At the same time they were getting 280,000 viewers for the games Sportsnet Pacific was showing. Keep in mind this was in the height of their West Coast Express era popularity when all home games were regularly sold out. The Edmonton Oilers were also doing the PPV thing at that time. They were not a good team and were only able to attract in the range of 7000 to 10000 subscribers.

It's difficult to translate that to a CFL PPV concept but suffice it to say if the Canucks couldn't get more than 26000 to buy in arguably the most popular era in their history how many subscribers would bite on a Lions package or a full blown CFL package? 3000 for Lions, maybe? There is no doubt production costs would be considerably more for football than hockey with so many more cameras and all the rigging and gear that it takes to cover a field the size of 5 NHL ice surfaces. It seems like a concept where the expense it would take to cover costs would make it difficult to come up with the sort of price that people would accept, especially in an era of cable cutting and people aggressively looking for ways to cut their cost of home television not add to it.


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BC 1988 wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 5:29 pm
There's a thread over on RiderFans about PPV (last post was May 13th. I was bored with no Lionbackers over the weekend). Good thread, it covered the topic well. The OP didn't receive much support (IMO he was being a bit abrasive though).
Lol. I was in on that thread for a few posts. When I responded that I couldn't see it working the OP got huffy basically saying he was trying to safe the CFL and where were my ideas. To be honest I have no bright ideas of how they can get through this without losing a bunch of money. I asked for his basic business model as in what would the price need to be and how many subscribers would it take to work but received nothing back.

I respect the author for taking the time and putting some thought to promote the idea. However he tends to get abrasive when people don't immediately embrace whatever it is he's pushing. He's made up his mind it will work and won't allow any amount of reasoning or counter opinion change his mind or at least open it a bit. He becomes like a dog protecting his own bone. I've seen it a few times over the years from different things he's put forward.


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I came up with this idea for a PPV model back in late March on the CFL forum and it was at best described as "interesting" but mostly shot down. My thought was to offer sports-starved fans the opportunity to view CFL games if partner TSN would agree to suspend their contract for a year to save the league. At this time, I thought this would work if CFL games were being played during a "dead spot" on the schedule. However, this idea will never work in September and beyond if any of the other leagues (NHL, MLB, MLS, or NFL) resume around that time.

My new "pie in the sky" concept is WHAT IF.... the Lions were to sell lifetime memberships on seats at B.C. Place. So for let's say, I don't know, $25,000 or $50,000 - whatever the number is - your seat is reserved at every event at B.C. Place (except Whitecaps games) for a max of 25 or 30 years. Lions, concerts, Rugby 7s etc. Obviously, management would have to negotiate with PavCo to allow this to happen as they don't own the stadium, but it would generate tremendous cash flow.

This is obviously not for a pipefitter from Maple Ridge with two kids and a mortgage but for some affluent fans, of whom there are many on the Lower Mainland, it could be worth the investment. If even just 100 people bought into this concept, it could generate a lot of revenue.


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David wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:21 pm
I came up with this idea for a PPV model back in late March on the CFL forum and it was at best described as "interesting" but mostly shot down. My thought was to offer sports-starved fans the opportunity to view CFL games if partner TSN would agree to suspend their contract for a year to save the league. At this time, I thought this would work if CFL games were being played during a "dead spot" on the schedule. However, this idea will never work in September and beyond if any of the other leagues (NHL, MLB, MLS, or NFL) resume around that time.

My new "pie in the sky" concept is WHAT IF.... the Lions were to sell lifetime memberships on seats at B.C. Place. So for let's say, I don't know, $25,000 or $50,000 - whatever the number is - your seat is reserved at every event at B.C. Place (except Whitecaps games) for a max of 25 or 30 years. Lions, concerts, Rugby 7s etc. Obviously, management would have to negotiate with PavCo to allow this to happen as they don't own the stadium, but it would generate tremendous cash flow.

This is obviously not for a pipefitter from Maple Ridge with two kids and a mortgage but for some affluent fans, of whom there are many on the Lower Mainland, it could be worth the investment. If even just 100 people bought into this concept, it could generate a lot of revenue.


DH :cool:
The one part of the PPV logic the RF poster put forth that didn't resonate with myself and many others who responded is why would the CFL want TSN to suspend the TV contract in favour of PPV? There can't be a game available for PPV that wouldn't also be available for TSN. It doesn't add up to me to be financially prudent pull games from the provider who pays you $50M per season and stick them onto PPV forcing people to spend even more money beyond what they spend to have TSN. The latter is of course assuming households with sports fans already have TSN as part of their TV package. PPV would be a very regionalized concept with any available game being really only of interest to the fans of the two teams participating. As a Lions fan no way would I be interested in spending money on a PPV telecast of Winnipeg vs Ottawa.

As for the seat license thing well I'm way too old for that. I'm not a young'un like you David. By the time 25 years is up I'll be wearing diapers and be able to hide my own Easter eggs. :wink: Certainly the seat license concept has been around for years. There could be a niche for it but that would be small. Attractive perhaps for folks early 40s and younger who are already financially secure and live close to the downtown core.


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I'm also far too old for the seat licence idea, and wouldn't be interested in attending any event at B.C. Place other than Lions' games with the possible exception of the provincial high school football playoffs.


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Good brainstorming, David. I'm pretty sure, though, that concerts and other events would be next to impossible to include, as it's way out of the lions and even bc places scope. Ie $1200 seats to a rolling stones concert - that's run by live nation. They'd say "cfl? What's that?"

The league is going to have to make some hard decisions. I see no way of drastically increasing revenue in the short term. So, like all of us, we must spend within our means.

What does this entail?

Well, I think a discussion with the cflpa to start. Salaries gotta come down. Ticket prices gotta come down, production costs gotta come down.

TSN does an amazing job Imo of dressing up our game to major league standards. That's gonna end, unfortunately.

The Vancouver Canadians are a great example of what works.

The thing is, as talented as our players are, it's not really the strength of the league. Everyone knows the NFL has the best players (generally) and that it's the top league. What I think I like about the CFL is that it's our game, our tradition, some exciting rule differences, and that it's accessible. Look, if I'm being honest, I'd rather have season tickets to the Seahawks. But my mid field seats, parking, gas, etc to go down there costs way more for one game than my entire lions season package.

In summary, to save the league, they must scale back, and we have to accept the consequences that come along with that.

It starts with fans in seats. Only real way to improve that is to lower prices, IMHO.


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Huge Talent wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:18 am
Good brainstorming, David. I'm pretty sure, though, that concerts and other events would be next to impossible to include, as it's way out of the lions and even bc places scope. Ie $1200 seats to a rolling stones concert - that's run by live nation. They'd say "cfl? What's that?"

The league is going to have to make some hard decisions. I see no way of drastically increasing revenue in the short term. So, like all of us, we must spend within our means.

What does this entail?

Well, I think a discussion with the cflpa to start. Salaries gotta come down. Ticket prices gotta come down, production costs gotta come down.

TSN does an amazing job Imo of dressing up our game to major league standards. That's gonna end, unfortunately.

The Vancouver Canadians are a great example of what works.

The thing is, as talented as our players are, it's not really the strength of the league. Everyone knows the NFL has the best players (generally) and that it's the top league. What I think I like about the CFL is that it's our game, our tradition, some exciting rule differences, and that it's accessible. Look, if I'm being honest, I'd rather have season tickets to the Seahawks. But my mid field seats, parking, gas, etc to go down there costs way more for one game than my entire lions season package.

In summary, to save the league, they must scale back, and we have to accept the consequences that come along with that.

It starts with fans in seats. Only real way to improve that is to lower prices, IMHO.
Some great points Huge Talent. An excellent column from Dan Barnes who agrees a lot with what you suggest. I didn't realize until this pandemic but the salary cap is too high if the league is that vulnerable. Revenue expectations of the league and teams have been unrealistic to be in this current position. It's not like BC or Toronto suddenly started losing money. And we all know it's going to be a very slow recovery for the economy moving forward. I love Mike Reilly but no CFL QB should be making $700,000 a season.

https://vancouversun.com/sports/footbal ... 16df7153d/


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It just occurred to me in discussion about the stadium and it's Corporation that they may have a whole world of of financial issues going forward. Where is their revenue coming from? Seems to me that they may have trouble surviving in their current incarnation. They have this hugely expensive infrastructure with few paying clients. This is a situation that isn't going to resolve itself easily.


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Sir Purrcival wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:13 am
It just occurred to me in discussion about the stadium and it's Corporation that they may have a whole world of of financial issues going forward. Where is their revenue coming from? Seems to me that they may have trouble surviving in their current incarnation. They have this hugely expensive infrastructure with few paying clients. This is a situation that isn't going to resolve itself easily.
It's going to be a mess, on so many economic fronts. I think we'll see a lot of vacant commercial structures for some time.

The good news is that's its built and its there. Ownership, management structure, shareholders, and etc may shuffle around, but we will still have a stadium and it will eventually become an asset again.


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I don't think PPV makes sense for the CFL when you compare it to what TSN is willing to pay. CFL on TSN averages around 500K per game with peak viewership of as much as 750K for high interest games plus over 3M for the Grey Cup. For TSN that's worth about $50M per year for 86 games, based on the recently extended 6-year broadcast deal. That works out to roughly about $1 per person watching the CFL on TSN.

Could PPV generate $50M for the CFL? I highly doubt it. I think that the market have shown that the numbers of people willing to pay to watch sports that has traditionally been available on OTA or cable TV is rather small. If the PPV subscription average was 20,000 per game the price would need to be $30 per game to match the revenue the league would have received from TSN.

Now why would TSN be interested in broadcasting games played in hub cities with no fans? Easy. They need content. And there is a good chance that CFL numbers could actually go up if there is less competition from other live sports on TV. Plus TSN needs to give viewers a compelling reason NOT to cut their cable. So each set of eyeballs TSN can attract is worth much more to them than what they would be worth to the CFL trying to do their own PPV broadcasts.

From the league's perspective there are so many downsides to PPV. Who is going to produce it? Who is going to host and announce? The on-air product will almost certainly be inferior to what TSN puts out and that would be detrimental to the image of the CFL. Can the CFL afford to take the financial risk that enough people may not subscribe to PPV games to make it profitable? And finally people are going to be more likely to only pay to watch the games involving their own team, which will hurt overall fan interest in the CFL. Imagine if the only games you saw last year were BC Lions games? You would think the CFL was pretty mediocre football.


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Farhan (calling on behalf of TSN) asked one of the questions today after the Dr Henry briefing. He said that the "3 local pro sports teams had applied to have their practice facilities reopened and was there an update as to when this could happen?"

Dr Henry answered she was not directly involved in that, but (off the cuff) thought this could be around mid-June (depending on continued progress with Phase 2). Video has not been uploaded to YouTube yet.


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Still lots of hurdles even if things go as planned. Are foreign players going to be able to come? As of a day or 3 ago, the border was shut for another month until June 21st. I'm still not sure where the revenue is coming from. As of this moment, large gatherings are still banned and in some jurisdictions, the virus has been trending the wrong direction since the "loosening of the rules" began. Ontario and Quebec are still in dicey waters at the moment. Over 400 new cases as of May 23 in Ontario and almost 700 in Quebec. So stadiums at this point are definitely a no go. I can't see TV revenue being good enough to replace that at least at this point and considering that large swaths of Canadian society have taken financial hits, just how many discretionary dollars are going to be available for recreation pursuits like football viewing (under whatever financial structure is going to be created be it PPV or something else??).

If there is going to be a season I think it is going to decided on the basis of owners willingness to lose money and how much. What about publicly owned franchises? Are people who are out of work, or working less, making less going to be ok with public monies going to cover operating losses in the current situation?
What about other leagues. If they manage to get get going, is the CFL going to have to go head to head with NHL playoffs, the NBA?

And then we have the latest trends out of the US. Even in those states where Governors have "opened". It appears that people have decided to largely stay home. So much so that statistically, they are hardly going out more than in states that are in lock down. People are scared and right now not really believing what their own governments are saying. That may or may not apply as much here but it is still likely that even if the gates are thrown wide open, there is still going to be a hangover which will last months or even years. It is human nature and people are afraid especially with all the talk about the "second wave".

I know many questions and few answers. But from where I sit at the moment, the obstacles seem many and profound and often out of league hands. I remember once a friend of mine saying that one of the worst entities to do business with is Gov. and all three levels are currently involved in one fashion or another.


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Sir Purrcival wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 10:29 am
Even in those states where Governors have "opened". It appears that people have decided to largely stay home. So much so that statistically, they are hardly going out more than in states that are in lock down. People are scared and right now not really believing what their own governments are saying. That may or may not apply as much here but it is still likely that even if the gates are thrown wide open, there is still going to be a hangover which will last months or even years. It is human nature and people are afraid especially with all the talk about the "second wave".
I can't see how any plans to play a season (in any of the major sports leagues) can include butts in seats. IF we get to a situation where a couple of thousand people can safely be in attendance is possible that would be gravy.


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https://www.cjme.com/2020/05/26/former- ... -decision/
Bill Baker is critical of the CFL's cancellation of the 2020 Grey Cup Festival in Regina. He sounds oblivious to the challenges that the event will face. Does he honestly think public health social distancing directives will be gone before 2021?


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