Better Late Than Never: 2014–15 Holiday Ratings

The holiday season has come and gone for another year, so it’s time to take a look at what Canadians have watched over the Christmas break. All the usual sports were there: hockey (NHL and World Juniors), the final weeks and playoffs of the NFL, college football bowl games and the new championship playoff format, and hints of basketball, soccer and UFC.

IIHF World Juniors

In news that will shock nobody, the 2015 installment of the World Juniors from Toronto and Montreal was ratings gold for hockey-starved TSN. The gold medal game was watched by a record-breaking 7.1 million Canadians on TSN (6m) and RDS (1.13m), making it the most-watched broadcast ever on specialty (aka, cable) television — the previous record was the 2011 World Juniors gold medal game of Canada versus Russia (6.1m). 13.4 million viewers tuned in to watch some part of the game with a peak of 9.7 million in the final minute of the match. Each of Team Canada’s games during the tournament was the most-watched broadcast of that day on any network with an average of 3.8 million viewers per game. Their semifinal was the second-most watched game of the tournament with 4.5 million viewers (TSN 3.9m, RDS 617k). Average viewership was up 11% on the last time the tournament was held in Canada.


Probably not the happiest holiday season at the Rogers compound. The New Year’s Day Winter Classic on CBC hit a five-year low (1.07m) and recorded the lowest ratings ever in the US. The December 27 edition of Hockey Night in Canada recorded its lowest number of the season with only 899,000 viewers. This was due to a combination of Canada playing in the World Juniors and neither the big draws of Toronto or Montreal playing at all that night. Probably of greatest worry is the new Sunday night Hometown Hockey games. Only two games over the holiday period got over the half-million mark and those featured powerhouses Toronto and Vancouver. Over the past three weeks, HH has been outrated by the Raptors, English Premier League, UFC and curling.


Bell Media (CTV and TSN) touted that this season of NFL ratings were up on last year. In particular, Bell says the Sunday late afternoon games were up 86% over last year. Of course, last year City TV had these games and they have a considerably smaller viewing range than CTV.  The divisional weekend had an average audience of 1.4 million over the four games, up 11% over last year. The NFC Conference Championship between Green Bay and Seattle received 2.34 million viewers on CTV making it the most-watched conference championship game ever, with a peak of 3.7 million when the game went into overtime. The AFC game later that night between New England and Indianapolis had way fewer viewers with 1.9 million.


The NCAA bowl games never have really registered in the ratings in previous years. With the new playoff format this season, the semifinals and final did some decent numbers. The semifinals on TSN got 702k for the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl 534k. Weirdly, the final between Ohio State and Oregon only got 460k viewers, but still cracked the top ten in a slow week.


The ratings of the non-Canada games from the World Juniors prove Canadians seem to love their international hockey; the Raptors continue to maintain an improved audience over last year, though general NBA games still get low numbers as none of TSN’s Christmas Day games featured in weekly top 20; and the four EPL Boxing Day games on TSN saw no real change in numbers from previous weeks.

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