Lacrosse Editorial – TSN And NLL…Growing The Game Is Now Attainable

The National Lacrosse League (NLL)  announced a historic partnership with TSN last week, to bring games to Canadians across broadcast and live streaming platforms for the first time since 2016

These two companies struck a deal back in 2014, where the network broadcast twelve regular season games and select post-season games, including the Champion’s Cup Final on television. The remaining 69 regular season games were available exclusively to TSN subscribers through TSNGO (a pay app from the network provider). 

This was a step in the right direction, however, the league, not having blockbuster ratings, took a back seat to most other programming, and the majority of the games were seen late night on the east coast, hindering ratings even more.  The other problem was the video feed, which was from the scoreboard in the arena, causing technical difficulties for the broadcast at times.

At that time, a lot of people didn’t have the app, and not much was done in the way of advertising and educating the public to this particular app.

After a few seasons of it not working well, the deal wasn’t renewed and the league then tried it’s own app (NLLTV) to broadcast it’s content.

Why would it work now?

Fast Forward five years, and the world has shifted to being a mostly digital world, with almost everyone owning a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or any combination of these items.  People have become much more tech savvy, and will use the apps to watch the games, as well as watch background on the players themselves.

Another reason this will succeed is the game has grown it’s popularity over the last few years and has a bigger audience to draw from, thanks to leagues like the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and their marketing, and although  the field game is quite different, a lot of the star power is the same.

Will a game of the week help bring in new fans?

For many years I have said that in order to grow the game, people must see it on cable TV.  It was too difficult to get novice fans to pay for an app to watch a game, without knowing what they were paying for.  While being able to watch it on any device at any time for a yearly fee is appealing to someone like me who loves the game, it won’t draw a person who doesn’t know the game, or the teams involved.

Having games for free on cable grabs a new audience, whether just channel surfing, or people who have never heard of the game or barely seen it before. 

The league will still use arena feeds to air their games with home team announcers, but in this day and age, the “in house” feed is HD quality, allowing pristine video to be broadcast.  All of the NLL teams broadcast crews rival (if not exceed) any team TSN could put together, and would be very good at explaining what’s going on to the novice fan as well as keeping the educated fan interested.

What to expect:

Already a very fast, and exciting game, it won’t be a tough sell to get more viewers.  Having different teams play week to week will expose all the teams to the viewers, and help with name recognition of teams as well as players. 

If people are in a pub or bar and the games are being shown, it will potentially help the clubs draw new fans resulting in an increase in ticket sales. At the very least having games viewable on cable TV again will bolster fan bases throughout the Country.

Another big difference from the last time this idea was tried, and maybe the most important one, is having Commissioner Nick Sakeiwicz at the helm overseeing this endeavor.

Commissioner Sakeiwicz was responsible for Major League Soccer (MLS) expanding and growing, and is using his knowledge, and expertise to navigate this league’s growth.

Definitely a game changer, Sakeiwicz’s blueprint for the league is coming to light in front of our very eyes, making it an exciting time for lacrosse in general, and for all involved, on both sides of the glass.

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.