Football

Live shows on the sport, extra Kate Beirness: TSN opts for ‘youthful look’ on Thursday CFL telecasts

If it was about capacity reasonably than delivery certificates, Rod Smith could be offended by TSN’s play-calling.

However the veteran broadcaster is ceding some Thursday night time Canadian Soccer League internet hosting territory to the admittedly youthful, hipper Kate Beirness. Smith can also be returning to the play-by-play sales space once in a while, for the primary time in many years, so he’s superb with the change.

“I perceive it,” Smith mentioned earlier this month. “A few of it’s experimental, I believe, that they need to see if they will get a youthful viewers as a result of the demographic of the CFL is basically guys my age. I’m in my 50s.

“If it was primarily based on capacity, I’d most likely be extra bothered by that, however they’ve made it clear they love the work I do and it’s by no means to do with that. I believe they’re simply attempting to vary up the look,” he mentioned. “I don’t assume it’s an indictment of my work. I simply assume they need a youthful look to see if it can entice a youthful viewers.”

The set up of the 34-year-old Beirness as host for all 11 Thursday video games represents only one step towards youthful and hipper. TSN additionally introduced a Thursday night time live performance sequence, one for every of the 9 venues, geared toward youthful followers.

“What it actually means is the 30-minute pre-game present previous to kickoff on Thursday might be catered slightly extra to a unique viewers,” mentioned TSN vice-president and govt producer Paul Graham.

The present will function well-liked segments from Kate McKenna and Derek Taylor, in addition to CFL broadcaster Brodie Lawson, who will “seize extra of the ambiance within the stadium,” in response to Graham.

“It truly is a little bit of a shift in our pondering the place we’re not 100 per cent dialled into the soccer sport,” he mentioned. “We’re leaving a couple of doorways open to go down some totally different paths.”

On this Nov. 26, 2017 file picture, a TSN sky digicam is proven through the Gray Cup in Ottawa. Tony Caldwell / Postmedia Community

Thursday nights are a double-edged sword for the CFL. TV rankings are robust, however in some cities, in-stadium attendance takes a whack on that night time.

“So what we’ve accomplished, in partnership with TSN, is actually labored on enhancing these sport days and making that one of many locations to be this 12 months,” mentioned Christina Litz, the CFL’s chief advertising, digital and technique officer. “And TSN is certainly altering the appear and feel of the published that night time. Groups are actually excited with the potential of this.”

There have been 13 Thursday night time video games in 2016 and 11 in 2017, and the rankings had been good.

“Thursdays as an evening for tv is a good night time — that’s simply custom,” mentioned Litz. “If we had been occurring the previous two seasons, that has emerged because the highest-rated night time on common for CFL. However in fact it is determined by the matchup. An in depth sport additionally works in our favour, on condition that 60 per cent of our video games are determined within the final three minutes.”

TSN is broadcasting all 81 common season video games, whereas RDS is doing 45, together with all 18 of Montreal’s tilts.

The 2018 CFL season kicks off with the Eskimos in Winnipeg on Thursday, and Smith will host the panel comprised of Matt Dunigan, Milt Stegall and Jock Climie.

The bonus for Smith is that he’ll deal with play-by-play duties for 2 Thursday video games in June, and is hoping for a minimum of three extra all through the remainder of the season. He additionally retains in-studio duties on Fridays and Saturdays and for the three Sunday video games on the schedule.

“I actually love getting out, watching soccer stay and speaking about it,” mentioned Smith. “In order a lot as I like the studio work and can predominantly proceed to do this, it’s a thrill to get out and name some video games.”

He shared play-by-play duties with John Wells and Gord Miller again within the late 1990s, and ultimately made his manner out of the sales space to be house with a younger household. He has additionally known as faculty video games, Olympics and Canada Video games occasions.

The strikes made to bolster and alter the Thursday night time bundle aren’t seen as a company shift away from the Friday Night time Soccer franchise.

“We nonetheless have our full slate of video games on Friday nights and Friday Night time Soccer remains to be a giant, marquee night time for us,” mentioned Graham.

As for nuts and bolts, Graham mentioned TSN is totally dedicated to having super-slo-mo at each sport this 12 months.

“I believe it actually provides a further ingredient to the telecast that makes it look larger, if you’ll.”

TSN will even deploy a cable digicam for video games in Toronto and Hamilton.

E mail: dbarnes@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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