Alberta Grey Cup would be ratings nightmare

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

There should be concern within TSN for the upcoming Grey Cup. The sports cable network is staring at the possibility of an all-Alberta Grey Cup, which would not be good for ratings.

If Edmonton manages to defeat Montreal in the East Division final on Saturday, TSN will be stuck without a major eastern market having a team in the title game - which is also bad news.

But even if Montreal advances to the Grey Cup, the French-language fans in Quebec will surely turn to RDS for the game.

In the first year broadcasting Canada's signature game, TSN is already without the two most important teams - in terms of ratings - in the nation.

The Toronto Argos - in this country's biggest market - didn't make the post-season dance. And the Saskatchewan Roughriders - the pride of the wheat province and everybody's second-favourite team in the country - are out.

The best hope - ratings wise - for TSN is probably a Montreal-B.C. final, delivering the two biggest markets possible.

Regardless of the matchup, TSN better hope one unforeseen remarkable storyline develops that brings people to the game because the network has already experienced one very noticeable ratings drop in the post-season.

While the sports channel has watched ratings climb for years, the East Division semi-final dropped 38% in ratings last Saturday.

Coupled with a disappointing Grey Cup number that would surely impact advertising revenue down the road.

Every media outlet will surely be facing a less lucrative advertising market next year because of the slowing economy, especially in southern Ontario.

In that type of marketplace, the last thing any station wants to see is a property with numbers that slipped in the post-season.

Media musings ...

TSN analyst Glen Suitor believes Saturday's East final in Montreal comes down to Alouettes running back Avon Cobourne.

"The story to me is Cobourne," said Suitor.

"Can he be productive (like he was) during the season or will the Edmonton defence be able to stop (him)?

"The quarterbacks (on each team) are a wash (in head-to-head comparison).

"The receivers are outstanding. So, can the Edmonton defence control Cobourne?"

Cobourne had 950 rushing yards, 616 receiving yards and eight TDs in an injury-shortened regular-season.

AROUND THE DIAL ...

If the Eskimos advance to the Grey Cup on Nov. 23 in Montreal, 630 CHED will carry the game, but Bryan Hall will only be at the microphone for one half. The play-by-play caller from each team involved in the Grey Cup will split the broadcast.

PARTING SHOTS ...

The TEAM 1260 is continuing with its Eskimos post-game show after Saturday's tilt. Corey Graham will be on the air following the final play at Olympic Stadium ... Without an Edmonton Oilers' broadcast on Friday, CHED Inside Sports (8-11 p.m.) is putting together a special preview of the East final. Host Dan Tencer will have a roundtable discussion with reporters in Montreal, examine the recent history of the Alouettes-Eskimos rivalry and have comments from both clubs.


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