You Like Ratings? We Have Ratings!

CFL vs. NFL: Ahh, the age-old debate over which form of hand egg football is more popular in Canada. Being from Toronto, I go to any bar on a Sunday and see every TV plastered with NFL games, yet rarely see similar on a Friday or Saturday for the CFL. In Saskatchewan or Alberta, I’ve been told that the CFL trumps all sports when it comes to viewing in bars. When it comes to ratings, both go neck and neck for top spot, and it seems to matter greatly on what two teams are playing as to the number of viewers. And as always, we must keep in mind that all those TV’s tuned into American networks aren’t counted towards the number. (One of the many flaws in the Canadian ratings system, but I digress.)

Fri Oct 11: BC at Calgary — 659,000 TSN
Sat Oct 12: Edmonton at Saskatchewan — 778,000 TSN
Sun Oct 13: Packers at Ravens / Bengals at Bills / Steelers at Jets — 712,000 CTV (*CBS, Fox)
Sun Oct 13: Saints at Patriots / Cardinals at 49ers — 292,000 Sportsnet (*Fox, CBS)
Sun Oct 13: Redskins at Cowboys — 455,000 TSN (*NBC)
Mon Oct 14: Toronto at Hamilton — 956,000 TSN
Mon Oct 14: Winnipeg at Montreal — 686,000 TSN
Mon Oct 14: Colts at Chargers — 545,000 TSN

Fri Oct 18: Calgary at Edmonton — 631,000 TSN
Sat Oct 19: BC at Saskatchewan — 863,000 TSN
Sat Oct 19: Toronto at Winnipeg — 650,000 TSN
Sun Oct 20: Bills at Dolphins / Patriots at Jets / Cowboys at Eagles — 710,000 CTV (*CBS, Fox)
Sun Oct 20: Broncos at Colts — 725,000 TSN (*NBC)
Sun Oct 20: Hamilton at Montreal — 473,000 TSN
Sun Oct 20: Texans at Chiefs / Ravens at Steelers — 227,000 Sportsnet (*CBS)

Thu Oct 24: Winnipeg at Toronto — 517,000 TSN
Thu Oct 24: Panthers at Buccaneers — 105,000 Sportsnet 360
Fri Oct 25: Edmonton at BC — 604,000 TSN
Sat Oct 26: Saskatchewan at Calgary — 771,000 TSN
Sat Oct 26: Montreal at Hamilton — 451,000 TSN
Sun Oct 27: Dolphins at Patriots / Cowboys at Lions / Bills at Saints — 809,000 CTV (*Fox, CBS)
Sun Oct 27: Jets at Bengals / Redskins at Broncos 151,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Sun Oct 27: Packers at Vikings — 411,000 TSN (*NBC)

Thu Oct 31: Bengals at Dolphins — 448,300 Sportsnet
Fri Nov 1: BC at Calgary — 543,000 TSN
Fri Nov 2: Montreal at Toronto — 487,000 TSN
Sat Nov 2: Edmonton at Saskatchewan — 613,000 TSN
Sat Nov 2: Hamilton at Winnipeg — 437,000 TSN
Sun Nov 3: Chiefs at BIlls / Vikings at Cowboys / Saints at Jets — 555,000 CTV (*Fox, CBS)
Sun Nov 3: Steelers at Patriots — 497,00 City (*CBS)
Sun Nov 3: Colts at Texans — 408,000 TSN (*NBC)

NHL: What is there really to say? Hockey Night in Canada destroys the competition week in, week out, whether that competition be other sports or big-time network programming. For the week ending October 27, HNIC finished at number four in the top programs watched by Canadians — the only sporting event in the top 30 and the only CBC program in the top 25, so you can see why CBC are so desperate to hang onto the television rights.

Sat Oct 12: Edmonton at Toronto — 2,258,000 CBC
Sat Oct 12: Montreal at Vancouver — 1,374,000 CBC
Sat Oct 19: Toronto at Chicago / Nashville at Montreal — 1,800,000 CBC
Sat Oct 19: Calgary at San Jose — 565,000 CBC
Sat Oct 26: Pittsburgh at Toronto / San Jose at Montreal / Winnipeg at Dallas — 2,108,000 CBC
Sat Oct 26: Washington at Calgary — 722,000 CBC
Sat Nov 2: Toronto at Vancouver — 2,376,000 CBC
Sat Nov 2: Montreal at Colorado / Detroit at Edmonton — 1,103,000 CBC
Sat Nov 2: Chicago at Winnipeg — 493,000 CBC

MLB: The Blue Jays ratings this year were the highest they have been in decades, — well, until they shit the bed — but unless “Canada’s team” is actually playing, most Canadians care not for baseball. The LCS numbers got better as each series went on, with the ALCS getting more eyeballs than the NLCS (usually without event taking into consideration the AL games were also on the unmeasurable Fox). Presumably that can be put down to two things: 1) Jays fans are more familiar with AL teams, and 2) Detroit & Boston both have big fan bases on this side of the border, especially in the far east of the country for the latter. Sportsnet had a 22% drop in World Series ratings this year compared to last, even though this season they ditched the forever terrible MLB International feed for the WS. Maybe more people prefer to watch on Fox and not see Greg Zaun? *raises hand*

Fri Oct 11: NLCS, Game 1 — 317,000 Sportsnet
Sat Oct 12: NLCS, Game 2 — 285,000 Sportsnet
Sat Oct 12: ALCS, Game 1 — 278,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Sun Oct 13: ALCS, Game 2 — 509,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Mon Oct 14: NLCS, Game 3 — 491,000 Sportsnet
Tue Oct 15: NLCS, Game 4 — 504,000 Sportsnet
Wed Oct 16: ALCS, Game 4 — 409,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Thu Oct 17: ALCS, Game 5 — 451,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Fri Oct 18: NLCS, Game 6 — 416,000 Sportsnet
Sat Oct 19: ALCS, Game 6 — 499,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)

Wed Oct 23: World Series, Game 1 — 556,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Thu Oct 24: World Series, Game 2 — 465,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Sat Oct 26: World Series, Game 3 — 496,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Sun Oct 27: World Series, Game 4 — 645,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Mon Oct 28: World Series, Game 5 — 726,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)
Wed Oct 30: World Series, Game 6 — 680,000 Sportsnet (*Fox)

NBA: Ummm…. What to say really. The NBA has always been a small draw in Canada. Granted the Raptors haven’t been good in years, but even big match-ups get minimal ratings. As an NBA fan, I’m just glad the networks still show a few non-Raps games per week despite the terrible numbers. And speaking of terrible, that first number you see below is for Toronto’s first game of the season. Granted, it was up against NHL and MLB, but wowzers. New MLSE boss Tim Leiweke certainly has his work cut out for him.

Wed Oct 30: Boston at Toronto — 54,000 TSN2
Fri Nov 1: Toronto at Atlanta — 71,000 Sportsnet One
Sat Nov 2: Toronto at Milwaukee — 215,000 TSN

The Rest (Soccer, Motor Sports, Figure Skating, Curling): If you told me NASCAR got nearly two-times the ratings that soccer did in Canada, I would laugh in your face. Alas, it’s certainly nobody that I know or any bar that I’ve ever been to, but somewhere in this vast land, droves of NASCAR fans are watching the sport every week. I don’t dislike NASCAR by any means, but NASCAR mostly getting bigger ratings than soccer, figure skating and curling truly surprises me.

Sat Oct 12: England vs. Montenegro — 167,000 Sportsnet
Sat Oct 27: Manchester United vs. Stoke — 201,000 TSN
Sat Nov 2: Arsenal vs. Liverpool — 224,000 Sportsnet

Sun Oct 20: NASCAR Sprint Cup — 297,000 TSN2
Sun Oct 27: NASCAR Sprint Cup — 362,000 TSN
Sun Oct 27: Formula 1, Indian GP — 165,000 TSN
Sun Nov 3: NASCAR Sprint Cup — 312,000 TSN
Sun Nov 3: Formula 1, Abu Dhabi GP — 213,000 TSN

Sat Oct 19: Skate America — 226,000 CBC
Fri Oct 25: Skate Canada — 228,000 TSN
Sat Oct 26: Skate Canada — 666,000 CTV

Sat Nov 2: Grand Slam of Curling, Men’s Quarter-Final — 214,000 CBC
Sat Nov 2: Grand Slam of Curing, Men’s Semi-Finals — 234,000 Sportsnet
Sun Nov 3: Grand Slam of Curling, Men’s Final — 402,000 CBC
Sun Nov 3: Grand Slam of Curling, Women’s Final — 213,000 Sportsnet

Numbers courtesy of Chris Zelkovich and Whitey Fisk.

37 thoughts on “You Like Ratings? We Have Ratings!

  1. So when I watch Sunday Night Football on the NBC station and it is the same feed as I see on the TSN channel my viewing is not one of numbers counted?

    • Not sure about the automatic ones, but I think it depends on what the viewers surveyed say. When I filled out a diary for BBM last year, I just said I watched it on City, even if I watched the CBS channel. (I also said I watched Community every week, even if I only caught it online, because I know they need the ratings)

  2. I think there’s a bit of a TSN factor in some of those TV ratings, similar to ESPN in the US, where people watch something if it’s on that channel and their news coverage tells them it’s important. And similarly, if TSN/ESPN are ignoring it and it’s left for some other channel to pick up, it must not matter, right? I can’t think of another explanation for the apparent high popularity of Nascar on Canadian TV.
    And since BBM, as far as I know, do not release this kind of information directly (“secret source” as the twitter guy you link to says), I suspect it comes indirectly from TSN when they know it makes them look good. They have been known to selectively stop doing it, if and when it makes TSN or one of the sports they exclusively carry look not so good.
    Quote: “ when we asked, the CFL and TSN both politely declined to reveal the season’s TV ratings”

    And whey they do, for years now it seems to be only to Zelkovich, who was the Toronto Star CFL/Argos writer, and no other writer.

    • Speaking from experience, TSN does sometimes release ratings to me (usually upon request if they aren’t in a PR). However, there are many other sources in the industry that can provide the numbers. Those who work on the broadcasts (commentators, producers, directors etc.) all receive and follow relevant ratings for the sports they follow. When I had time, I received ratings for some sports off the record quite frequently, regardless of rather they were good or not.

      • Then can you get the info for individual cities? When BBM used to release Top 30 TV programs for the week for individual cities, the difference was very noticeable as it related to the few sports events that would be listed. For example, CFL play off games could often make the lists, even in the top ten, for Edmonton and Calgary, yet not for Toronto, where I would presume Blue Jays and Raptors games would probably rank relatively higher than in the rest of the country if there were lists just for sports events.

  3. I still marvel at the number of viewers the CFL gets in relation to the NFL and even to the NHL. Most people would have to admit that national media is fairly indifferent to the CFL (since the national media is located in Toronto), and it has no exposure on OTA television, no exposure on CBC, Global, City and very limited exposure on the main CTV network. Meanwhile the NFL Juggernaught is constantly in our face in Canada. Every station except CBC shows games, every station broadcasts NFL commercials, every sports bar and sports apparel store in chocked full of NFL merchandise and promotions.
    For the CFL to maintain its place in the viewing conscious of Canada when it is confined to one cable TV network is truly amazing.

  4. Montreal Canadiens ratings for RDS (from the RDSRP twitter and BBM)

    Tue 10/1, TOR-MTL: 883,000 (RDS)
    Sat 10/5, PHI-MTL: 907,000 (RDS)
    Wed 10/9, MTL-CGY: 587,000 (RDS)
    Thu 10/17, CLB-MTL: 685,000 (RDS)
    Sat 10/19, NSH-MTL: 821,000 (RDS)
    Thu 10/24, ANA-MTL: 740,000 (RDS)
    Sat 10/26, SJ-MTL: 718,000 (RDS)

  5. I believe people meters and simulcasts along with cable penetration make split audiences negligible to the football numbers, but I would listen to anyone who can prove it one way or the other. If so, time to quit trotting that out as the excuse or “we’re only seeing a portion of the numbers” insinuation.

    • The way I see it, it is what it is. There is no real way to prove how many people are watching on NBC/CBS/FOX, so its stupid to guess. City games are probably the most accurate since it is simulcasted everywhere except the maritimes.

  6. I just wonder how accurate the numbers are. How many people actually are monitored, and how accurate is the sample size they use. Is the sample the same people every year?

    I’m always shocked to see the curling and CFL numbers. I still don’t know anyone that watches curling, and very few people who watch CFL. (No offence intended to anyone who watches those sports.)
    Maybe it’s just my circle of friends.

    Many of the soccer numbers may lower than Nascar, skating & curling, because weekend soccer matches usually start at 7AM, 10AM or 12PM and weekday matches are on when most people are working. Nascar, curling and skating have better times for most people.

    • None taken. I actually think that it is relatively easy to trace what people watch especially on cable. I would think with all that data going into your home, that company computers are also tracking what is being shown on the TV in your home or at the bars.

    • This type of comment just reflects what many people fall into – rely on friends and limited number of sources so that you have skewed view of the landscape whether its sports tv ratings, stock market views or Rob Ford.

      Curling & CFL have consistently been ratings juggernauts in the past decade after hockey. Where have you been my friend? It’s the reason why Sportsnet is funding a curling tour. It’s why TSN re-upped big time with the CFL. Both are owned by companies that have full access to info to what is being watched on their distribution systems. They don’t really need BBM other than to have a neutral 3rd party source.

      And all the people who comment the veracity of sample size need to take a stats 101 lesson.

    • Cookie has it right on. Curling is a big ratings earner that is relatively inexpensive to broadcast. Set up in one city for 4-10 days and get 3 broadcasts a day out of it. Moore and Pelley believe in it so much they brought the Grand Slam back from the dead because they knew TSN would have CCA events for years to come.

  7. agree with cookie

  8. I still believe another 10 years soccer will be the second most watched sorts in Canada. I don’t know any one who watches CFL in GTA or Niagara region. I do know that Canada is not just GTA. When I traveled to New Brunswick, they just love CFL, because your options for sports get limited.

    Why do you think TSN grabbed half of premier league. MONEY. that’s all it matters. They dont care about curling, NHL or anything else.

    Biggest issue soccer has is the timing. if UEFA Champions league was at night, the rating would be at least 300,000 or more.

    • “I don’t know any one who watches CFL in GTA or Niagara region”

      So how many people do you know in the GTA or Niagara region? 10? 50? 100?
      Are you 100% sure about their viewing habits?

      • Lets say I know “1” person, but I have never seen anyone talk about CFL at work, school or stores. Have you seen a flag on some one’s car for a CFL team? I was in downtown Toronto for the 100th gray cup final. Not bad at all but most people weren’t even from Toronto!!!

        You miss understood my point, in southern Ontario even with 2 CFL teams, i believe more people watch Hockey, NFL, NBA, Soccer than Canadian football league. Why? i dono know, I know a lot of people watch CFL outside Ontario. I seen them, and they love it as much as Hockey.

        I grew up in Niagara Falls, people are either leafs or Sabers fans. they love NFL because of Buffalo. After football and basketball competition, soccer was the biggest tournament with high schools because of Italian population.

        • As a person who lives west of Ontario it appears out here that the Golden Horseshoe seems to take a perverse pleasure to point out to Canadians that they don’t like or watch the CFL. Why is that? Here in the west we watch CFL and NFL, we talk CFL and NFL. If you like football, why would you cut out 4 months of watching meaningful games?
          Or is there a feeling that if you kill the CFL in southern Ontario you will get an NFL team in Toronto?

          • I don’t criticize the CFL. I just don’t find it as interesting as the NFL. Personal preference. I used to watch the CFL but I don’t anymore. I never criticize anyone who watches any sport. Everybody likes what they like, and they don’t have to justify it. I was just interested in how the numbers were calculated.

            • And no one really takes a “perverse pleasure” in pointing out that some sports may be regionally more popular in one part of the country than another. It’s just reality. And almost no one would care, other than maybe some who might also be interested in seeing what people are watching in their own city instead of just the country as a whole or some place thousands of miles away. Apathy does not equal “hate”, and I think everyone understands that except for perhaps that one particular angry delusional douchebag kid who makes thousands and thousands of posts and comments under different names on any sports-related site, not knowing everyone except him easily sees it’s all the same guy.

          • thanks for the above link which it has proven my point. It clearly explains about growth in Southern Ontario and calls it “the most unlikely source”.

            Also: “Whatever the reason, the CFL has to celebrate a victory in a region where it has had few in recent years.”

            I do not believe I mentioned any where that Soccer or NBA is more popular than CFL. (playing in high school doesn’t mean anything, we have more kids play soccer than Hockey but at the end doesn’t mean Soccer is more popular). As I said on my first opinion (which I wish I never posted) Canada is not about some Niagara Falls city with population of 85,000.

            In Canada we respect everyone and any sports you want to watch, whether is Cricket or NFL.

    • Amir, please read Cookie’s comments.

  9. Tuesday, Oct. 1 HNIC doubleheader opening night special
    Leafs at Canadiens 1,400,000
    Jets at Oilers NA

    Saturday, Oct. 5 HNIC doubleheader
    Senators at Leafs and Flyers at Canadiens 2,616,000
    Oilers at Canucks 1,442,000

    For Oct. 12, the Canadiens at Canucks rating includes
    Senators at Sharks and the BBM rating is slightly less at 1,363,000

  10. NHL on TSN ratings

    Wednesday, Oct. 2
    Leafs at Flyers—1,280,000

    Tuesday, Oct. 8
    Avalanche at Leafs—1,187,000

    All other TSN games involving canadian teams are NA

    HNIC and TSN ratings are from Bill Brioux’s twitter page at

    • More from Bill Brioux
      Thursday, Oct. 3 TSN doubleheader
      Flames at Capitals 727,000 viewers
      Canucks at Sharks 837,000

      BBM had the Leafs TSN ratings.

  11. I went to curling match once and a chess game broke out.

  12. It’s a little naive to believe that BBM has no idea about the ratings for the American channels shown on Canadian cable.

    When CTV announced that 8.1 million Canadians watched the Super Bowl, they are including everyone who watched the game on both CTV and the originating U.S. cable channel. The Super bowl broadcast is simultaneously substituted on cable and CTV gets the rating points for both channels. That’s why all the Canadian networks do sim-subs, to increase their advertising revenue by selling Canadian ads on the American station and increasing their ratings.

    With the new wireless PPM rating meters, even if you PVR the game and watch it later, you are still counted.

    If CTV isn’t including the sim-sub channel in their ratings, how many Canadians did watch the Super Bowl then. 15 million? 20 million? If that was the case, why wouldn’t CTV want everyone to know their true ratings (and how many viewers watched their advertisements)? Why would they brag about 8.1 million viewers in their news releases when 20 million Canadians actually watched CTV’s SB broadcast?

    The only Super Bowl viewers not included in the BBM “overnights” are those in smaller towns not subject to sim-sub regulations, some satellite co’s who got around the sim-sub rules, those with OTA attennas and grey-market viewers…which account for under 20% of total viewership and even those will be included in the comprehensive BBM ratings book…along with the PVR viewers.

    • If the CTV feed is the one you are watching (as you would likely be during the SB), then you are counted. If you are watching the originating feed from an American channel, then your aren’t.

      How many Canadians were really watching the Super Bowl? I know I was watching it on WIVB with an OTA antenna but I would say that it makes up a very small % of the overall audience.

  13. The Super Bowl provides a more realistic figure for the number of NFL viewers in Canada because almost everyone has to watch it on CTV. During the season on Sunday afternoons, there can be several games on at once, including games not picked up by Canadian channels and therefore only available on US stations (regardless of whether watched in Canada on cable and/or OTA), along with the NBC Sunday night game which is not necessarily sim-subbed on most cable/satellite systems, therefore meaning (as Zelkovich points out) only TSN viewers are counted in Canadian BBM ratings.
    Some of us live close enough to get the US stations freely over-the-air, and prefer watching anything available that way instead of the Canadian channels clumsily missing plays (or parts of any TV show) by coming back late from commercials. Receiving cable, satellite, or IPTV service does not stop anyone from easily switching between antenna and other inputs, although it is almost certainly a very small percentage who do that. I rarely watch anything on any of the Canadian over-the-air networks except when CTV shows a different NFL game from the Buffalo stations. I’ve almost forgotten some of them exist. I literally can’t remember the last time I watched anything on GlobalTV.

  14. 100% with you Gil, I am fortunate enough to have a great OTA setup. If there is a sports game on any of NBC,(SNF, PGA, NHL), ABC (NBA), CBS (NFL,PGA, College FTB & BKB) or FOX (NFL, CFT, MLB) I will ALWAYS watch on OTA rather than either Bell or Shaw Direct. The HD picture for one is IMO better and I don’t have to worry about the game being interupted coming in and out of comercial breaks.

  15. 100% with you Gil, I am fortunate enough to have a great OTA setup. If there is a sports game on any of NBC,(SNF, PGA, NHL), ABC (NBA), CBS (NFL,PGA, College FTB & BKB) or FOX (NFL, CFT, MLB) I will ALWAYS watch on OTA rather than either Bell or Shaw Direct. The HD picture for one is IMO better and I don’t have to worry about the game being interupted coming in and out of comercial breaks.

    • OTA in southern Ontario/Quebec is fantastic. In Regina the only OTA is CBC, CTV and Global. Down your way I see no reason for a person to have cable or satellite. Maybe that is why to cable companies have bandwidth limits.
      This is also a reason why I am pissed that CTV doesn’t at least show the Grey Cup on their main network feed. If I want to follow my favourite league I am forced to have cable.

      • I doubt many people, particularly those who watch sports, would find getting rid of cable to be a realistic option. I suppose there may be some who don’t care about sports who could find most of what they want with a combination of the internet and OTA, but otherwise OTA is not a replacement for cable/satellite/IPTV service because of the limited number of channels and programming available. As I said, I only use it to flip over to the antenna input to watch the direct signals of the US broadcast networks and avoid the simsubs on cable, because it’s free (like radio) and I can receive the Buffalo stations. I started doing it years ago, before digital, and when NFL was on Global in Canada. Global was terrible for missing plays. I’m not really sure how bad CTV and the other Canadian outlets are for missing parts of games or other shows, as TSN usually seems pretty good in that regard now. I don’t watch golf, but I have read an occasional comment that Global still habitually screws up when trying to simulcast live golf events on weekends.

  16. I really find it hard to believe the ‘ratings’ for the CFL. I have not heard anyone @ work talking about the CFL – ever – in my 30 years of work experience. I don’t know one person who has shown any interest at all in he CFL -while I know scores of people who follow the NFL intensely and there are always many NFL pools that everyone seems to be involved in. Is this some kind of massive conspiracy of lies to promote and generate interest in the CFL ??

Leave a Reply to Darren K Johnston Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s