Canadian Sports Ratings Update: March 16, 2013

Lots of ratings to post this week. Enjoy everyone. All are BBM 2+ AMA.

TOR-BOS, Mar 7, TSN: 1.1 million
MTL-CAR, Mar 7, RDS: 752, 000
PIT-TOR, Mar 9, CBC: 2.021 million
MTL-TB, Mar 9, RDS: 748, 000
CGY-LA, Mar 9, CBC: 601, 000
MTL-FLA, Mar 10, RDS: 726, 000
EDM-CHI, Mar 10, SNW: 225, 000
VAN-MIN, Mar 10, SNP: 364, 000
OTT-MTL, Mar 13, TSN: 870, 000

The Brier
ON-MB, Mar 9, TSN: 832, 000
NL-NO, Mar 9, TSN: 728, 000
NO-ON, Mar 10, TSN: 754, 000
MB-NO, Mar 10, TSN: 918, 000

World Baseball Classic
CAN-MEX, Mar 9, SN: 333, 000
ITA-USA, Mar 9, SN: 111, 000
CAN-USA, Mar 10, SN: 526, 000

World Figure Skating
Men’s Short, Mar 13, CBC: 264, 000

CLE-TOR, Mar 10, SN1: 64, 000

Thanks to: Bill BriouxWhitey FiskBob Weeks

The one thing to note is Sunday’s ratings. Lots of things on and competing for eyeballs. None of them really did anything spectacular. The Brier was down under a million for the first time in a while, and it only got about a quarter of its viewers from the lucrative 25-54 age group. Hockey on RDS was relatively consistent, finishing second. One of the biggest games in Canadian baseball history only drew 70, 000 more viewers than a Jays spring training game a few weeks ago.

Canada’s Three Days at the WBC

Michael Saunders, a potentially great Canadian hitter? Depends if Rick Sutcliffe or Jeff Nelson is the analyst.

Michael Saunders, a potentially great Canadian hitter? Depends if Rick Sutcliffe or Jeff Nelson is the analyst.

It seems there is no sports tournament that can end a team’s hopes of a victory faster than the World Baseball Classic. It was only some 75 hours ago that Canada was preparing for first pitch of their first game against Italy in Phoenix. Now after three games in three days they are eliminated. The only good news, that’s three days of television coverage that I can pack into one post.

Sportsnet is using the international feed for all World Baseball Classic games, including those involving Canada. In Phoenix Matt Yallof and Jeff Nelson called Canada’s first game against Italy on Friday. Yallof is a studio host for MLB Network, while Nelson is a Seattle Mariners radio analyst. Not exactly the kind of broadcast team that gives the WBC a big event feel. Yallof wasn’t too bad, especially considering he has little experience in play-by-play. Nelson, however, was unbearable. He said Joey Votto and Justin Morneau were the two best hitters in baseball (for clarity he may have said left-handed hitters, I can’t remember). He retracted that later to simply say Votto is in the top five while proclaiming that “some of the best hitters are left-handed.” When a hitter fouled the ball off his shin he offered, “usually guys wear pads down there, or like one of those shinguards.” I would love to know what percentage of pro baseball hitters wear shinguards.

That wasn’t Nelson’s only problem. He also suggested walking Votto and Morneau to face Michael Saunders was a wise strategy. Saunders went on to go 2 for 3 with 2 RBI. And then over the next two days he became the Pool D MVP. Surely of all the broadcasters who work in North America, MLB Network/International could have found someone better than Nelson to spend a couple of days in Phoenix and call a couple (minor) World Baseball Classic Games.

On the weekend Charley Steiner and Rick Sutcliffe replaced Yallof and Nelson on the international feed. Sutcliffe is an international feed regular, while Steiner is the Dodgers radio announcer. My main problem was they were obvious American homers despite the fact that their commentary was heard around the world except in the US. What else stood out to me was how many times Sutcliffe compared the Canadian team (and fans) to hockey players. Every single reference to a tough player related to hockey. And the brawl only helped promote the stereotype. Other gems offered by Sutcliffe included “Y’know that movie field of dreams? I see a baseball field full of winners right now”. On the brightside, while Nelson thought it was a good idea to face Saunders with Votto and Morneau on every time, Sutcliffe seemed to think he’s going to become a great player.

I won’t say a lot about Steiner, but I just generally find him annoying. And again, of all the baseball announcers in North America surely MLB International could have found someone else. Steiner did offer up the horrible, prepared-sounding “Team USA are taking their talents to South Beach” as Craig Kimbrel recorded the final out.

I know Sportsnet is busy producing Jays spring training games; however, it would have been nice if they could have thrown together a Canadian broadcast team to call Canada’s games in Phoenix. These were two well-watched baseball games. Canada-Mexico had over 300, 000 viewers while Canada-USA was over half a million. I think all major international Canadian team-sport broadcasts should feature Canadians in the broadcast booth.

Ratings… For those wondering, 259, 000 viewers watched the Vancouver-Toronto MLS game last Saturday. Not bad considering it went head-t0-head with an NHL game watched by almost 1.7 million on CBC. The season-opening game between Vancouver and Montreal had an average audience of 288, 000 on TSN last season. RDS numbers put that game over 500, 000 viewers. TFC ratings fell to under 150, 000 for their game against Kansas City Saturday afternoon (it was on TSN).

In other ratings the Brier drew 832, 000 head-to-head with the WBC Saturday afternoon, while the evening draw averaged 728, 000. The Brier semifinal drew 754, 000 Sunday morning, while the final drew 917, 000. For HNIC, Leafs-Penguins drew over 2 million and around 600, 000 watched Flames-Kings. The late HNIC game just beat out the Justin Timberlake-hosted SNL head-to-head.

Documentaries… There are a couple sports-related documentaries on TV this week that are worth checking out. Tonight TSN has “The Clemente Effect” at 8:30pm ET. You can see the trailer here. The documentary, an ESPN Films production in conjunction with ESPN Deportes, premiered on ESPN yesterday afternoon.

CBC News Network will show the Canadian premiere of “Oscar Pistorius: What Really Happened?” The BBC documentary debuts tonight on BBC Three in the UK, while it will air on CBC News Network Sunday night at 10pm ET. Here is an interesting Guardian article on the challenges of making the documentary.

In Case You Missed It: March 1, 2013

March has began, and with it have came programming plans for many of the big events this month. Here is a quick roundup of what’s happened in sports media this week.

The World Baseball Classic begins later tonight in Taichung and Fukouka. Sportsnet will broadcast all 39 games, beginning with Australia vs. Taiwan tonight at 11:30pm ET. 25 games will air exclusively on Sportsnet ONE. Canada’s three games will air on all four regional channels. The other 10 games will air on a mix of the two, due to scheduling conflicts with regional hockey. I may be wrong on this, but as I understand there is only one broadcast feed for the World Baseball Classic. MLB Network will produce games in the United States. MLB International will everywhere else. That means we will get two Americans calling the Canada-US game. For the first round Rich Waltz and Buck Martinez will call Group A games in Fukouka, JB Long and Joe Magrane will call Group B games in Taichung, and Gary Thorne and Jose Mota (my favourite team) will call Group C in San Juan. Matt Yallof and Jeff Nelson, and Matt Vasgersian and Jim Kaat will split Group D games in Arizona. Bob Costas will come in to call the final. Sportsnet will show all games in their entirety, except for two that are joined in progress this weekend. That’s better than in 2009 when the start of almost every game was cut off by Connected.

The 2013 Tim Hortons Brier begins tomorrow afternoon in Edmonton. TSN has more than 65 hours of live coverage of the most prestigous curling event in the world. Favourites include defending champ Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton, Kevin Martin, Brad Gushue and Brad Jacobs. Also take this as a sign of things to come, graphics-wise.

Sportsnet will broadcast the CIS Men’s Hockey Championship for a sixth straight year. The regional channels will show the final two pool play games on March 16, with the final on Sportsnet ONE on March 17. Alberta and Saskatchewan from Canada West, as well as UNB and St. Mary’s from the AUS have already qualified. The OUA also has two spots.

Sportsnet has officially announced their 2013 IndyCar Series coverage, as they enter their first year as the Canadian broadcaster. Sportsnet will show every race live, which I don’t think TSN ever did in all of their years covering the series. Sportsnet will have six races, including the two races in Toronto and the Indianapolis 500; Sportsnet ONE has nine; and Citytv has the two races in Detroit. Sportsnet will even have a studio crew anchored by Rob Faulds with analysts Paul Tracy and Bill Adam for four of the races. Todd Lewis will work as a pit reporter for those four races.

For those wondering about the Jays games airing on FX, there is a  reason for why those broadcasts are airing there. The decision to show them came well too late to make them Sportsnet productions. Plans are often made months in advance for any sports production. Rogers doesn’t want to show Jays games on Sportsnet that use the other teams’ feed, so they are marketing them as bonus games on FX. Of course it also can’t hurt as a promo tool for FX either.

Lastly, how about ratings this week? Sportsnet set a record for a Jays spring training game, while TSN had its highest NHL audience since the first game after the lockout in 2005.