Friday, October 29, 2004

Survey says: the Game is strong!

From it’s near death experience of the late 90’s to the phoenix like rebirth in Vancouver, Hamilton and Toronto, the signs are all there that the Canadian brand of football is back and regaining its place in the hearts of Canadians.

Confirmation of the renewed love affair between the game and its fans can be found in a survey conducted by two Sociologists at the University of Lethbridge. Reg Bibby and Trevor Harrison study trends and traditions there and recently conducted studies on Canadians and their attitudes towards the CFL.

On the Bill Good radio program in Vancouver on Friday, the two delivered the results of a market survey that shows the league is once again an integral part of the Canadian Sporting fabric.

Their findings should warm the heart of Commissioner Tom Wright, who has seen some remarkable success stories under his watch so far. Television ratings are strong, including a recent Sunday head to head where TSN’s broadcast of CFL games outpaced not only the NFL offerings that weekend but also surpassed the Baseball playoffs. As has been noticed previously attendance is another positive trend, Vancouver, Hamilton, Toronto all saw sizeable gains in at the gate and more importantly more buzz in their communities than in the past few years.

Sponsorship partnerships are beginning to develop into longer term commitments, with more and more companies looking to come on board. And grass roots interest in football seems larger than ever, from the college games of Atlantic Canada through Quebec, Ontario the Prairies and BC people are actually paying attention to the local teams, something that was mostly a family and friends activity in the past.

The survey sets up an interesting situation for Mr. Wright and his owners group, expansion can’t be that far off the horizon now that the pilings are back in place on the dock. Setting sail for new lands gives the CFL a number of options and in each location the interest in football is at an all time high. Atlantic Canada and Quebec City have both been frequently mentioned of late as possible destinations for franchise number 10. The survey gives the nod at the moment to Atlantic Canada which seems primed to welcome the league to the East Coast, giving the CFL a truly coast to coast dimension. The fact that there seems to be a bidding war developing for teams only bodes well for Mr. Wright’s stewardship and the product on the field.

Even the negatives reported in the survey can be a useful experience, some respondents and callers to the show expressed frustration at the lack of CFL memorabilia available for purchase, perhaps a more intensive marketing strategy with retailers will help get the League’s message, colours and product out into the marketplace.

Check out the entire interview for yourself by logging onto the CKNW website, their program archives page will hold the interview for one month. Click on Friday morning, October 29, 11 am for the full story. They should be downloading like mad at the CFL offices and distributing copies to one and all, the brand is strong!

No comments: