Country of origin  United States
Running time 3 hours
Original network NBCSN (2012–2013)
Original release 2012 – 2013

CFL on NBC was a de facto branding for the Canadian Football League (CFL) games that have been carried on American broadcaster NBC or its sports network, NBCSN.


NBC's first attempt (1954)

NBC's first run broadcasting Canadian football involved coverage of a collection of Big Four/IRFU (the predecessor to the CFL's East Division) games and the Grey Cup in 1954.[1] NBC's coverage during this period (simulcasting the Canadian national broadcaster) provided far more coverage than the NFL's existing contract with DuMont. NBC aired games on Saturday afternoons, competing against college football broadcasts on CBS and ABC (at the time, college football telecasts were far more restricted than they would be in later decades). The revenue from the contract allowed the IRFU to directly compete against the NFL for players during the 1950s; the American viewership arguably prompted the league to finally raise the point value of touchdowns from 5 points to 6, as it has been in the American game since 1912, in 1956, and to play some exhibition and regular season games in the United States beginning in 1957. Interest in the CFL in the United States faded dramatically after the debut of the American Football League in 1960.[2]

Between 1955 and 1980, only one game was televised on U.S. television, the 1962 Grey Cup (which was broadcast by ABC).

1982 experimentation

NBC (with the exception of its northernmost affiliates) broadcast games in the CFL for three weeks during the 1982 NFL players' strike[3][4] The first week of broadcasts featured the NFL on NBC broadcast teams, before a series of blowout games on the network and the resulting low ratings resulted in NBC cutting back and eventually cancelling its CFL coverage. (At the time, ESPN held the U.S. broadcast rights, who sublicensed them to NBC during the strike; rights reverted to ESPN after the experiment failed.)

Interim American coverage (1983-2011)

In 2008, when NBCSN was known as Versus and not yet under the same corporate umbrella as NBC, it aired the 96th Grey Cup.

The Canadian Football League entered into a much more generous contract with the America One television network that had run from 2001 through 2009. That contract allowed for the majority of CFL games to be televised in the United States, with America One syndicating the Canadian coverage (from TSN or, prior to 2008, CBC) primarily to regional sports networks. A number of factors led to America One not renewing their contract after the 2009 season. On July 1, 2010, NFL Network began airing live Canadian Football League games, again simulcasting TSN. This much more limited package did not include any games in August (during the NFL preseason), any playoff games, the Labour Day Classic (one of the Labour Day games was carried in 2011 but not the other), Thanksgiving Day Classic, or the Grey Cup. NFL Network aired Thursday games, three Saturday games in July, and then Friday night games beginning again in September (after ArenaBowl XXIII; NFL Network also held rights to the Arena Football League and aired a weekly game on Friday nights).[5][6] NFL Network announced it would not renew its deal with the CFL on May 25, 2012.[7]

NBCSN's coverage (2012-2013)

The package was picked up by NBCSN[8][9] starting on Monday August 27, 2012 with 14 games total broadcast on NBC Sports Network including 9 regular season games (including both Labour Day Classic games) and [10] all of the playoffs and Grey Cup.[11] NBC renewed its deal with the CFL shortly before the 2013 regular season, but the deal scales back the network's playoff coverage (the network will not air the first round games and will only air the conference finals on tape delay). The 2013 U.S. TV schedule will feature 11 regular season games live (including the lone Labour Day Classic contest), three tape-delayed contests in October (including the displaced Toronto-Hamilton Thanksgiving Day Classic, which will air at midnight the Wednesday after), and the Grey Cup live.[12]

In an oddity, NBCSN only owned the traditional television rights to the league, while another network owned the Internet rights; ESPN3 has carried CFL games on the Internet since 2008. (ESPN Inc., ESPN3's parent company, holds a minority stake in TSN.) The CFL granted exclusive broadcast and Internet rights to ESPN in a multinational, five-year deal prior to the 2014 season, ending NBCSN's involvement with the league until at least 2019.

See also


  2. "54, 40 or Fight" (PDF). Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  3. "CFL on NBC". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  4. "1982: Bush-league football?". CBC Digital Archives. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  5. NFL Network Going Canadian - CFL games begin airing on network July 1 Broadcasting & Cable July 1, 2010
  6. CFL to air on NFL Network CFL Official Site June 30, 2010
  7. McMillan, Ken (May 25, 2012). No CFL on NFLN, eh?. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  8. Fang, Ken (21 July 2012). "CFL Finally Has A US TV Contract; Games Air On NBC Sports Network". Fang's Bites. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  9. Bucholtz, Andrew (21 July 2012). "NBC SPORTS NETWORK'S CFL DEAL COULD GIVE IT MORE VALUABLE CONTENT". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  10. 100th Grey Cup Game to air live in US on NBC Sports Network.
  11. "100th Grey Cup to air live in U.S. on NBC Sports Network". Retrieved 23 July 2012.
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