BANJO BOWL RI­VALS READY TO PICK EACH OTHER APART

West Divi­sion ri­valry should be win­ner for the CFL’s broad­cast part­ner at TSN

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - TOM MAYENKNECHT

BULLS OF THE WEEK

When­ever the CFL kicks into Grey Cup tour­na­ment mode, it’s a bullish time for three-down foot­ball and the CFL on TSN.

That will be par­tic­u­larly true of the West Divi­sion semi­fi­nal Sun­day be­tween the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers and the vis­it­ing Win­nipeg Blue Bombers.

The Rid­ers are the most pop­u­lar brand in the CFL. They are kings in Saskatchewan and have the largest na­tional fol­low­ing of any team in the league.

Given the strong Banjo Bowl ri­valry that ex­ists be­tween Saskatchewan and Win­nipeg, it should be a tele­vi­sion mag­net, es­pe­cially in West­ern Canada.

Ex­pect the West semi­fi­nal to get north of the one mil­lion mark in aver­age na­tional au­di­ence, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a typ­i­cally crazy CFL fin­ish.

The East Divi­sion semi­fi­nal (Sun­day at 10 a.m. on TSN, TSN 1040 AM) will be softer in terms of TV rat­ings, but should ben­e­fit from the sto­ry­lines around out­go­ing B.C. Li­ons head coach Wally Buono, ar­guably the best bench boss in CFL his­tory af­ter strong stints in Cal­gary and Van­cou­ver. He has seven Grey Cups to his name and needs to get past the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats for a shot at No. 8 later in the month.

Mean­while, it’s been a bull mar­ket for Cana­dian teams as the NHL ap­proaches the quar­tersea­son pole. Toronto and Win­nipeg have been as ad­ver­tised and will al­most cer­tainly fin­ish as Canada’s two best teams for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

Yet the big­gest sur­prises have been in Mon­treal and Van­cou­ver, where the Canucks are an un­ex­pected 10-6-1 head­ing into the week­end. Who would have pro­jected the Canucks to be at the top of the Pa­cific Divi­sion five weeks into the reg­u­lar sea­son?

They’re there be­cause of the big­gest bull in the busi­ness of sport in Canada this week: Elias Pet­ters­son. The Canucks rookie cen­tre has tran­scended the buzz of his own fan base in B.C. He has be­come a league prop­erty on the strength of 10 goals and seven as­sists in his first 11 games.

Good, young ta­lent — par­tic­u­larly of the en­ter­tain­ing va­ri­ety — drive bull mar­kets for me­dia and fan in­ter­est and that’s what Pet­ters­son is do­ing in spades.

He turns 20 Mon­day.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

The Achilles heel for the CFL con­tin­ues to be its un­der­per­for­mance in Canada’s three largest me­dia mar­kets.

It’s a bear­ish propo­si­tion for the nine-team league to be shut out of Toronto and Mon­treal — the two big­gest Cana­dian TV mar­kets — with both the Arg­onauts and the Alou­ettes not only fail­ing to make the play­offs, but fail­ing in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion with re­spec­tive records of 4-14 and 5-13.

The Li­ons have the chance to lever­age what would be a sto­ry­book run to the Grey Cup, but to do so they’d have to win back-to­back road games.

At 9-9, the Leos won two of nine reg­u­lar-sea­son games away from B.C. Place, so that trend needs a ma­jor re­ver­sal.

The ma­jor ur­ban mar­kets are what keep com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie awake at night. That’s why he’s cham­pi­oning a CFL 2.0 based on an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing strat­egy and per­son­ally in­volved in tak­ing the fran­chise bid for Hal­i­fax over the goal-line.

A 10th fran­chise would bring sym­me­try to the CFL sched­ule, some­thing badly needed in eastern mar­kets.

The Sport Mar­ket on TSN 1040 AM rates and de­bates the bulls and the bears of sport busi­ness. Join Tom Mayenknecht Satur­days from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for a be­hind-the-scenes look at the sport busi­ness sto­ries that mat­ter most to fans. Twit­ter.com/TheS­portMar­ket

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/FILES

The West Divi­sion clash be­tween Win­nipeg and Saskatchewan could at­tract an aver­age of one mil­lion view­ers for TSN.

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