CFL aims to become a YouTube star by streaming playoff games around the world

Whoever hoists the Grey Cup later this month will be doing so in front of a worldwide audience.. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Whoever hoists the Grey Cup later this month will be doing so in front of a worldwide audience.. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

If you find yourself in Greenland or Zimbabwe later this month and are worried about missing the CFL playoffs and the Grey Cup, you can put your mind at ease.

The CFL announced Friday that it is the first major sports league to stream its playoff and championship games live and free on YouTube, thus expanding its digital footprint across the globe. The catch is that if you want to watch the YouTube version, you'll have to be in Greenland or Zimbabwe or one of the other 148 countries outside Canada that will get the webcasts.

``This is an important step forward as we look to expand our global reach," CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said in a statement. ``This makes our biggest game and one of our country’s cultural milestones available to Canadian expatriates and sports fans in general in almost every corner of the globe.”

The Grey Cup, in particular, will literally be available on television and online around the world -- except in China.

The 103rd Grey Cup, which is to be played in Winnipeg on Nov. 29, will be televised live on TSN and RDS in Canada, ESPN2 in the United States, Mexico, South America, New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands and on BT Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It will also be streamed via YouTube in almost every major country outside North America, with the exception of China.

In addition to its YouTube airings, it will be streamed live on ESPN Play in Mexico, Central America, South America (excluding Brazil) and the Caribbean. It will also be streamed on in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and WatchESPN in Brazil.

If you're wondering how much interest there is in three-down football around the globe, YouTube says there's a surprising amount -- and from some pretty unexpected places.

“People are watching sport in ways we could only imagine even a couple of years ago," YouTube sports content partnership manager Roland Lange said in a statement. ``We see top searches for the Canadian Football League coming from India, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam. By streaming on YouTube, leagues and organizations like the Canadian Football League are creating more ways for fans around the world to connect to the live game and highlights they love, whether they're on a smartphone, tablet or desktop.”