â†µToday being Canada Day, I suppose there's no better occasion to report that the Canadian Football League has entered into a partnership with NFL Network, which will begin tonight when the network airs the CFL season opener between the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders, a rematch of last season's Grey Cup championship. Tonight's broadcast will be one of 14 CFL regular season games that will appear on NFL Network through November. â†µâ†µ
â†µBoth parties stand to gain from the arrangement. The CFL gets far greater exposure in the U.S., while NFL Network fills a programming void prior to the beginning of training camp (three of the games will be on Sunday night this month) as well as on Friday nights in September, October and November. None will be broadcast in August so as not to conflict with the network's commitment to air every NFL preseason game. Beyond that, the NFL Network creeps ever closer to being a one-stop shop for professional football in all its forms, having also shown Arena League games in the past. Though Versus currently holds rights for the UFL, if that league continues to gain traction, there's a greater chance an arrangement will be made there as well. â†µâ†µ
â†µObviously, there are some slight differences in the rulebook that uninitiated viewers will have to adjust to. And any league that viewers know contains a lower talent quotient than what they're accustomed to from the NFL isn't going to be an easy sell. I doubt that NFL Network expects a runaway success, but as stated, the agreement will provide fresh content at a time when the network is usually filling its schedule with broadcasts of vintage games from 15 years ago. â†µâ†µ
â†µWhile increased attention from American audiences might spur interest in having standout CFL players make the jump to the NFL, as some have done in the past, according to the new labor deal between the CFL and its players union, there are limits on their ability to jump to the NFL while still under contract with a CFL club. Obviously, that wouldn't affect players whose contracts have expired, but it would make matters slightly more difficult for an NFL team with an eye on a specific player. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.