ESPN Tackles New CFL Rights Deal

ESPN will give the Canadian Football League its biggest platform in the U.S. thanks to a new exclusive rights deal struck Friday.

The cable sports network and the Canadian football outfit agreed to a new multiyear deal that will put some 86 games on ESPN networks this season. At least 17 of those games will air on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews, including the Grey Cup — the CFL’s champinship game. Deal terms were not disclosed.

The remaining 69 games will be carried on ESPN’s multi-screen network, ESPN3.

The TV schedule kicks off Saturday at 3 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 with the Calgary Stampeders against the Montreal Alouettes. Canada’s main sports network TSN will work with ESPN on game productions and their team of commentators will call the games.

“Since the early days of ESPN, CFL games have been a valued part of our programming lineup,” said Burke Magnus, senior vice president, programming acquisitions. “I’m proud to see our relationship continue as we strive to serve football fans 365 days a year.”

ESPN has aired CFL games over the past three decades: 1980-84, 1986-89, 1994-97 and in 2013. ESPN3 has carried CFL games since 2008, including 54 games in 2013.