CFL streams the post-season

The football league is streaming its playoff games globally on YouTube, a first for a North American professional sports league.

The CFL is changing up its post-season strategy this year, adding a global YouTube stream of the Grey Cup Playoff games, including the Grey Cup itself.

The games will be streamed in 150 countries around the world (aside from Canada, where TSN has rights and the U.S., where rights are held by ESPN), marking the first time a professional sports league in North America has broadcast its playoff and championship games for free on YouTube. The league did test a couple regular season games earlier this year on YouTube, as did the NFL, which live-streamed a game on Yahoo last month.

Christina Litz, VP of marketing and content at the CFL, says the YouTube stream is about promoting the league globally rather than advertising partners.

“For the CFL this is about the learning we can get from the streams,” she says. “In the world of media, borders are becoming less and less relevant, and people are showing, through platforms like YouTube, that they are interested in consuming content from all over the world. It’s the right time for us to make this move now because it’s the way that content is being consumed.”

Live-streaming the CFL Playoffs is the latest in a series of digital announcements for the CFL this season aimed at expanding the league’s presence inside and outside of Canada under new commissioner Jeffrey Orridge. Earlier this year, the football league announced a sales and content partnership with MCN Whistle Sports, bringing co-created videos to life to reach younger fans.

This year’s Grey Cup will also have in-person digital components, with a Twitter sign that changes to team colours depending on the hashtags being shared. To ensure that everyone in the city can share content around the Nov. 29 Grey Cup in Winnipeg presenting sponsor Shaw is bringing free Wi-Fi to the city for the week ahead of the game.

In addition to digital events directly related to the CFL, the league is also making its database, game footage and web analytics available to developers participating in SportsHack 2015. The event, which is being held at Ryerson University during the final weekend of November, brings real-world challenges to participating teams who are tasked with creating new prototype products in the areas of fan development, promoting ticket sales and social media.

The CFL is building a set of new responsive websites for the league’s teams, as well as a social media app, which will be launched during the off-season.

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