Why a Canadian Football League team joined a trend and took over its own radio rights

RJ Broadhead was two hours and seven storeys from kickoff, looking down to the turf at Tim Hortons Field from the home team’s radio play-by-play booth. He had all the essentials nearby, from his phone to his headset to his production team and, critically, his binoculars.He said he needs them most just before the ball is snapped and then when the tackle is made, just so he can see if the ball squirts out. He looked out again: “I’ve heard it from other play-by-play guys, that this is really high up.”Calling games for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats has been an adjustment for Broadhead, who had previously spent 21 years at Sportsnet, but the entire room represented change. It was officially designated “Radio Broadcast Booth 1” by the sign at the door, but nobody inside was there to call a game for radio.

The Canadian Football League franchise has joined an emerging trend of professional North American teams moving their terrestrial radio rights online. Fans who wanted to hear Hamilton and the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night were listening to the Ticats Audio Network.

Their broadcasts still appear on traditional radio, but the Ticats hold the rights, control the production and stream the game exclusively through their own platforms. It is part of a network of content that is also working in podcast and video, adding up to about 15 hours of listening a week.

The National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks pulled their radio rights to launch an audio network last year.