As the Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes prepare to host the BC Lions on opening night, fans across Canada are finalizing their fantasy teams and starting lineups thanks to Canada’s only CFL fantasy football league.
What started off as an idea amongst friends, hardcore CFL and Roughriders fans, in Saskatchewan has flourished into an ever growing website with over 50,000 visitors since its launch last March.
“Fantasy football is really popular in the States, it’s a major phenomenon down south,” says Fantash-Eh communications director Matt Brown. “The CFL could really benefit from its own fantasy league.”
According to Jamie Dykstra, CFL director of communications and broadcasting, the CFL has seen tremendous development over the past five years with record viewership on TSN. The 2010 Western Final featuring Saskatchewan and Calgary had an average audience of 2.54 million viewers, making it the most-watched CFL playoff game every recorded.
The Grey Cup continues to be one of Canada’s most-watched celebrations with an average audience of 6.04 million viewers in 2010, second in ratings behind the previous year’s record setting 6.1 million viewers.
“Business is growing,” says Dykstra. “It all comes down to the fans enjoying our game and engaging in our products.”
That is the same mentality Fantas-Eh Football had when creating their site.
“It’s a great business idea but we also thought it would be really good for the CFL,” explains Brown. “We’re CFL fanatics and we were tired of playing fantasy NFL because it’s not our game. We wanted to do something about it.”
While Fantas-Eh Football has no partnership with the CFL at the moment, they do have a partnership with the hometown Roughriders who send out Fantas-Eh Football flyers in their season ticket packages and have put up advertisements throughout the stadium.
While Dykstra wouldn’t comment on a future partnership between the CFL and Fantas-Eh Football or whether the CFL would start their own fantasy league on the CFL website the way the NFL does, he did explain that anytime fans get together to create something that gets other fans together enjoying the game it is good for the CFL.
“There is a market for it,” Says Dykstra about CFL fantasy leagues. “Fantas-Eh has shown there is a market for it.”
Brown was already a CFL fanatic before participating in the fantasy league but says there’s a whole added value to watching the game with points riding on the line. He now watches all four games a week just to see how his fantasy players are doing.
“It’s very engaging to fans and it’s a great way to bring the nation together,” explains Brown. “You start to recognize and appreciate all the teams and players in the league. It gives you a great reason to watch the CFL.
Opening day is June 30 with RONA Canada Day Kickoff at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcasted on TSN.
For more information about Fantas-Eh Football visit the website at http://www.fantaseh.ca