TORONTO — CFL commissioner Mark Cohon believes the road to profitability for the league’s two troubled southern Ontario teams is now significantly easier thanks to a lucrative new broadcast agreement.
The deal with TSN, which runs from 2014 through 2018, is worth in the neighbourhood of $40 million per season, according to a league source.
That’s more than 2 1/2 times the previous five-year agreement, which was worth $15 million a year. That means starting in 2014, CFL teams can expect to receive more money from the league.
That’s good news for the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the CFL’s only money-losing teams. Cohon said the new deal should allow clubs that struggled financially in the past to become profitable while also enhancing franchise values.
“Absolutely it does,” he said. “The biggest chunk of revenues still comes from ticket sales . . . however this gives teams the ability to recoup any historic losses but also invest in improving their franchises.”
It’s a strong foundation to build on, said Cohon.
“When you think about the new stadiums that are being built, this helps some of our owners invest in those,” he said.
“It allows us to invest in fan experience in the game. It allows us to start thinking about new businesses like fantasy football. The past was about building a strong foundation . . . now it’s about investing in the future.”
Senator David Braley, who owns the Argos and B.C. Lions, was pleased with the deal.
“When you look at it, we have to be almost ecstatic about the agreement we’ve signed with TSN,” he said from Ottawa. “The strength of today’s CFL and our future at this point look extremely bright.
“We have a very good contract.”
The TSN agreement should also help ease the Ticats’ move into their new facility in 2014. Hamilton will play at the University of Guelph this year — with the CFL helping financially to cover those costs —while its new home is being built.
Next year, not only will the Ticats benefit from playing in a new state-of-the-art stadium, but also be buoyed by increased CFL disbursement payments.
The new deal is also good news for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are scheduled to move into Investors Group Field this year. The increased CFL cash should make it easier for the club to handle the annual $4.5-million mortgage payment for its new facility.
The previous TV agreement between the CFL and TSN included an option clause the broadcaster exercised for the upcoming season.
The new agreement gives TSN and RDS exclusive media rights to all CFL exhibition, regular-season and playoff games — including the Grey Cup — as well as the league’s annual draft and combine.
In addition to broadcast and digital rights, the agreement also includes exclusive radio rights to the Grey Cup to TSN and TEAM radio stations.
The 2014 CFL broadcast schedule will expand to 84 games in 2014 with the addition of the Ottawa expansion franchise.