Euro 2012 and NHL Draft Score for TSN

I have five ratings from the past weekend on TSN to share with everyone this evening. First up is UEFA Euro 2012, where the England vs. Italy match, that was decided by penalties, attracted an average audience over 2 million viewers on Sunday afternoon. That makes it the highest rated Euro match in Canada history. It was also the top TV program for the week of June 18-24. The quarterfinals as a whole averaged 1.27 million viewers.

The highest rated quarterfinal at the 2010 World Cup on CBC was 1.95 million for Argentina vs. Germany. In the same event a Sunday round of 16 match between England and Germany brought in an average of 2.27 million viewers. This shows that big games for the European Championships can attract audiences similar to big games at the World Cup. Which is impressive considering it isn’t as big of an international event.

Here are the ratings for all four Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

Portugal vs. Czech Republic – 652, 000
Germany vs. Greece – 917, 000
Spain vs. France – 1.13 million
England vs. Italy – 2.058 million

Meanwhile on Friday an average of 1.37 million viewers tuned in to the NHL Draft on TSN. Needless to say I am never amazed at how many Canadians will watch something hockey related, even on a summer evening. Even with three Canadian teams picking in the top 5, the average audience shows that many had nothing better to do stuck around for hours.

Euro 2012 a Hit for TSN

Soccer is a sport ridiculed by many sports fans in North America. Left to a 30 second highlight package on sports highlights shows. A small two paragraph column in the local newspaper. However, it seems in the last four years this is beginning to change in Canada. More and more soccer, especially of the European variety, is becoming a mainstream sport. Now sports highlights shows are leading with soccer highlights, albeit partly for promotion in TSN’s case. Twitter is abuzz with Canadians of English, Italian, Irish, German backgrounds (as well as others) cheering on their teams. Even those who compete in, or cover, other sports for a living are watching.

No number is more telling that one sent to me by TSN last week. Average audiences for the group stage of Euro 2012 are up 154% over the group stage for Euro 2008. That is nothing short of spectacular. Although not entirely unexpected considering CBC’s 2010 World Cup ratings. The final for the 2010 World Cup between Spain and Holland cracked the 5 million viewers barrier. That’s a mark that usually only hockey, the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl hit. Yet soccer did it and the most well supported teams like Italy and England weren’t even playing. Many other games in 2010 buzzed around the 2 million mark.

While the audiences for Euro 2012 aren’t that high (yet), something has to be said for 731, 000 Canadians tuning in on a Friday afternoon to watch England beat Sweden. In fact the three England group stage matches, all on weekdays, averaged 705, 000 viewers. Euro 2012 ratings are consistently beating the Blue Jays on Sportsnet, despite the Jays playing in primetime. The knockout stages will probably post ratings at least equal to the opening weekend of the CFL season. Some early afternoon Euro games have even outnumbered the viewers who watched NHL playoffs on CBC in a similar timeslot a few weeks earlier. Of course nobody is saying soccer is more popular than hockey or football, or even baseball, in Canada. But it is right there. For one month it is just as big.

And with yesterday’s penalties thriller between England and Italy (maybe the two most popular European national teams in Canada), ratings will likely rise again for the quarterfinals. Italy vs. England should hit an average of 1.5 million viewers easily. Maybe more. And the semifinals? Could they crack a million viewers on a weekday? Considering the teams that are playing (Portugal, Spain, Germany and Italy), I think it is very possible.

TSN’s coverage of the tournament is more or less exactly what we expect from a Canadian network (whether it be TSN, Sportsnet or CBC) for a major international soccer tournament. While the faces are different than for Euro 2008, TSN has more or less followed CBC’s 2010 World Cup formula. The network’s top soccer host (Scott Russell for CBC, Luke Wileman for TSN), their top analyst (Jason de Vos for both networks) and a random British pundit (John Collins for CBC, Darren Anderton for TSN).

Some readers have complained that de Vos hasn’t played at a high enough level to provide proper analysis on a European Championship. I disagree. de Vos knows tactics inside and out. His halftime segment is among the highlights of TSN’s broadcast in my opinion. Many of the best analysts in sports weren’t the best. de Vos is especially critical, maybe too critical, of poor defense though. However, just because de Vos wasn’t as good a defender as Florent Malouda doesn’t mean he can’t criticise Malouda for poor defensive play. That’s the job of an analyst. It is no different than Darren Pang criticizing a top NHL goaltender.

My bigger problem is with Anderton. It isn’t that he’s a bad analyst. Or even that he’s wrong. He just doesn’t stand out, at all. I asked the question before the tournament and I will reiterate it now. Why Anderton? There are hundreds of English (or Scottish or Irish) football players who are now retired on work on TV in Britain. Why did TSN choose Anderton of all people? Surely someone who has actually worked in the TV industry before was available. And as one reader mentioned, why not bring in Aron Winter? Sure he would have been a last-minute choice as he was fired by Toronto FC days before Euro 2012 began. But he would make a great guest analyst. I don’t dislike Anderton, but he’s just boring. The same can be said for many ITV and BBC pundits though.

Luke Wileman is an exceptional host. While I prefer CBC’s Russell, this is one thing TSN really did get right. Vic Rauter was a serviceable host of international soccer for a number of years, but he doesn’t have the soccer knowledge Wileman does. My only issue with Wileman, and the TSN panel as a whole, is they discuss the same issue too much. It seems by the time Euro 2012 Tonight has aired everything has been said two or three times. However, the last-minute comments from the panel before kickoff are great. I’ve skipped most pregame shows because those comments are all I need.

There is one very bright spot in TSN’s coverage and he isn’t on TV nearly enough. I’m talking about Nabil Karim, who is actually in Poland and Ukraine “reporting” on the tournament for TSN. I put reporting in quotes because it seems TSN hasn’t given him ample airtime to report on the tournament. They should use him for pregame hits, postgame interviews (if possible) and off-field pieces. Surely a licensed rightsholder like TSN could score an interview with an England player (or any other player who speaks English) to show during their pregame show.

Speaking of reporters, I would really like to see postmatch interviews. It may be impossible for TSN to do these themselves (even with Karim on-site); however, even BBC or ITV interviews would be an improvement over nothing. Sportsnet will occasionally show Sky Sports’ interviews after Champions League matches. TSN should do the same for Euro 2012.

Last, but not least, is the one thing that actually drives me crazy about TSN’s Euro 2012 coverage. The international feed commentators. Well actually it is just one commentator. John Helm. On Sunday Helm misidentified Joe Hart, Mario Balotelli and Joleon Lescott as teammates at Manchester United. Many reading this column know the trio play for United’s rivals on the blue side of Manchester. He did correctly say Manchester City twice later in the match, but it doesn’t make up for such a glaring mistake.

Awkward, boring, delivery aside, this has been a horrible tournament for Helm. And today proved why he shouldn’t be anywhere near the microphone for worldwide audiences. He tends to provide viewers with useless facts, such as birthdays (did you know Jordan Henderson turned 22 one week ago?). Or marriages (by the way, turns out Federico Balzaretti’s wife is actually a ballerina, not a model). He also explained how extra time and penalties work in the 22nd minute. Much, much too early to discuss such matters. He misidentified players, said a free kick was a caution and made many, many other mistakes throughout the 120+ minutes of play.

For these reasons, I think TSN should use ESPN’s commentary with Ian Darke and Steve McMannaman for next Sunday’s final (which Helm is also scheduled to call). Canadians hear Darke and Macca every Saturday morning on TSN2. They are familiar voices who don’t tend to get a lot of criticism. Sportsnet uses Sky commentary for Champions League because it is superior. TSN should do the same for Euro 2012.

Dave Woods and Steve Bower have both been up to par for the international feed though. Both bring excitement to the game. This is something that is difficult to do without a co-commentator. I still can’t understand why international commentary feeds for Euro and the World Cup don’t use co-commentators though. They are just as plentiful as main commentators and usually make the broadcast more enjoyable. The Premier League and Champions League finals use them. As do all the major networks in Great Britain.

TSN’s Euro 2012 coverage probably could be a bit better. But based on past tournaments, it could also be a lot worse. I haven’t found myself wanting to watch BBC and ITV coverage online, which is a good sign.

Canadian Sports Ratings Update: June 24, 2012

Euro 2012 ratings continue to impress (more on that in an article later). Here are some selected sports ratings for June 11-17.

NJ-LA (g6), June 11, CBC: 3.133 million

EURO 2012
FRA-ENG, June 11, TSN: 709, 000
UKR-SWE, June 11, TSN: 578, 000
GRE-CZE, June 12, TSN: 412, 000
RUS-POL, June 12, TSN: 588, 000
DEN-POR, June 13, TSN: 500, 000
GER-NED, June 13, TSN: 608, 000
ITA-CRO, June 14, TSN: 518, 000
ESP-IRE, June 14, TSN: 498, 000
UKR-FRA, June 15, TSN: 479, 000
ENG-SWE, June 15, TSN: 731, 000
CZE-POL, June 16, TSN: 592, 000
POR-NED, June 17, TSN: 927, 000

MIA-OKC (g1), June 12, TSN: 392, 000
MIA-OKC (g2), June 14, TSN: 473, 000
OKC-MIA (g3), June 17, TSN: 316, 000

WSH-TOR, June 11, SN: 463, 000
WSH-TOR, June 12, SN: 594, 000
PHI-TOR, June 15, SN: 594, 000
PHI-TOR, June 16, SN: 530, 000
PHI-TOR, June 17, SN: 703, 000

TOR-HAM, June 13, TSN: 336, 000
SSK-BC, June 13, TSN: 437, 000

Golf US Open
2nd round, June 15, TSN: 463, 000
3rd round, June 16, TSN: 507, 000
4th round, June 17, TSN2: 243, 000

Canadian Sports Ratings Update: June 13, 2012

Here are sports ratings for June 4-11. Yes, I already posted some of this yesterday. Anyway; it was a busy weekend in sports. Thanks to TVFeedsMyFamily for posting many of these.

NJ-LA (g3), June 4, CBC: 2.155 million
NJ-LA (g4), June 6, CBC: 3.014 million
LA-NJ (g5), June 9, CBC: 3.109 million
NJ-LA (g6), June 11, CBC: 3.133 million

UEFA Euro 2012
POL-GRE, June 8, TSN: 354, 000
RUS-CZE, June 8, TSN: 435, 000
NED-DEN, June 9, TSN2: 529, 000
GER-POR, June 9, TSN: 1.027 million
ITA-ESP, June 10, TSN: 1.101 million
IRE-CRO, June 10, TSN: 799, 000
ENG-FRA, June 11, TSN: 709, 000

TOR-CHW, June 5, SN: 679, 000
TOR-CHW, June 6, SN: 612, 000
TOR-CHW, June 7, SN: 735, 000
TOR-ATL, June 9, SN: 493, 000
TOR-ATL, June 19, SN: 464, 000

OKC-SA (g5), June 4, TSN: 235, 000
BOS-MIA (g5), June 5, TSN: 311, 000
SA-OKC (g6), June 6, TSN: 256, 000
MIA-BOS (g6), June 7, TSN: 335, 000
BOS-MIA (g7), June 9, TSN: 417, 000

Formula One
Canadian GP, June 10, CTV: 345, 000

Horse Racing
Belmont Stakes, June 9, TSN: 290, 000

The Euro 2012 ratings are more than impressive. Over a million viewers puts it in CFL and NHL territory on TSN. The comparable Saturday and Sunday afternoon games from the 2010 World Cup were 1.305 for Argentina vs. Nigeria (Saturday) and 2.275 for England vs. USA (Sunday). Obviously Euro doesn’t bring in as many mainstream sports fans as the World Cup does.

The ratings for the Canadian Grand Prix are actually down from 2010. A bit surprising considering it was on CTV for the first time in ten years. That year the race was on TSN and went head-to-head with the World Cup on CBC. It had stiff competition from Ireland vs. Croatia and a Jays game. Both brought in more viewers. Not good news for Formula 1, which is in the midst of its most competitive season ever. Lewis Hamilton became the 7th different driver to win the first seven races in 2012.

The Stanley Cup Final averaged 2.7 million viewers over six games. That is unsurprisingly less than half the 6.15 million average who watched the seven game thriller between Boston and Vancouver a year ago. 2010 is a more comparable year when the Blackhawks defeated Philadelphia in six games. That series averaged 3.1 million viewers. Amazing how CFL and NHL ratings are both slightly down in 2012. Are Canadians simply watching less sports?

Continuing with the 2010 comparisons, that year was the last time TSN broadcast the Belmont Stakes. It averaged 165, 000 two years ago. Is there a renewed interest in horse racing? A sport that, along with boxing, many experts considered dead. Imagine how high the ratings would have been if Canadian horse I’ll Have Another was able to compete for the Triple Crown (he was a scratch due to injury).

Canadian Sports Ratings Update: June 12, 2012

I’ve been quite busy. As a result, I’m way backlogged on posting any ratings. I have complete ratings (courtesy of TV Feeds My Family) from May 14-20 and May 28-June 3. I also have Euro 2012 and Stanley Cup Final ratings for last weekend, courtesy of TSN and CBC respectively. Everything in between is just what I’m able to piece together from other sources.

NHL Playoffs
NJ-NYR (g1), May 14, CBC: 1.453 million
LA-PHX (g2), May 15, TSN: 1.135 million
NJ-NYR (g2), May 16, CBC: 1.502 million
PHX-LA (g3), May 17, TSN: 1.049 million
NYR-NJ (g3), May 19, CBC: 648, 000
PHX-LA (g4), May 20, CBC: 879, 000
LA-PHX (g5), May 22, CBC: 1.5 million
NYR-NJ (g6), May 25, CBC: 1.8 million

LA-NJ (g1), May 30, CBC: 2.129 million
LA-NJ (g2), June 2, CBC: 2.569 million
NJ-LA (g3), June 4, CBC: 2.155 million
NJ-LA (g4), June 6, CBC: 3.014 million
LA-NJ (g5), June 9, CBC: 3.109 million
NJ-LA (g6), June 11, CBC: 3.133 million

UEFA Euro 2012
POL-GRE, June 8, TSN: 354, 000
RUS-CZE, June 8, TSN: 435, 000
NED-DEN, June 9, TSN2: 529, 000
GER-POR, June 9, TSN: 1.027 million
ITA-ESP, June 10, TSN: 1.1 million
IRE-CRO, June 10, TSN: 799, 000

NYY-TOR, May 16, SN: 716, 000
NYY-TOR, May 17, SN: 827, 000
NYM-TOR, May 20, SN: 223, 000
BAL-TOR, May 28, SN: 699, 000
BAL-TOR, May 29, SN: 728, 000
BAL-TOR, May 30, SN: 609, 000
TOR-BOS, June 2, SN: 708, 000
TOR-BOS, June 3, SN: 533, 000
TOR-BOS, June 4, SN: 648, 000

CHL Memorial Cup
Shawinigan-London, May 20, SN: 223, 000
Shawinigan-London, May 27, SN: 575, 000

NBA Playoffs
LAL-OKC (g2), May 16, TSN: 115, 000
BOS-MIA (g2), May 30, TSN: 201, 000
MIA-BOS (g4), June 4, TSN: 321, 000