The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Baseball and football ratings defy the summer dog days

Chris Zelkovich
Eh Game
Friday's CFL game between Hamilton and Montreal drew a big audience despite a lack of drama. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
Friday's CFL game between Hamilton and Montreal drew a big audience despite a lack of drama. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe

Despite the current evidence, Canadian summers tend to be shorter than Donald Trump's temper. As a result, we've become accustomed to getting away from it all, which is great news for hotel owners and tour operators but not so much for sports broadcasters.

Summer ratings tend to be lower than they are in the other three seasons, mainly because we treasure those precious warm days that we know will soon disappear and be replaced by the usual ice, snow, sleet and hail. That's why Canadian-based teams, leagues and TV networks tend to be a little grumpy come July and August (or grumpier than usual).

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But for some reason, this summer is producing a lot of good news for the aforementioned.

Take a look at the Toronto Blue Jays, who continue to bring in big audiences. They topped the million-mark again for Sunday's game against the Oakland A's and barely missed it Saturday.

Even Friday's game, which started at 10 p.m. in the viewer-rich Eastern time zone, managed almost 800,000 viewers. The reason for all of this, of course, is that the Jays woke up a nation last summer and the nation is still partying. This will run as long as the Jays are in contention.

Then there's the Canadian Football League, which is making a bit of a comeback after two down seasons. Saturday's game between B.C. and Saskatchewan averaged 668,000 viewers on TSN, with another 25,000 watching en francais on RDS.

The biggest overall audience came Friday when a combined average of 758,000 (including 200,000 on RDS) watched Hamilton beat Montreal in a game that was seriously lacking in both drama and entertainment. If you're wondering, Wednesday's and Thursday's  CFL games averaged 669,000 and 739,000 respectively, pretty strong numbers for the early part of the season.

At last look, CFL ratings were 10 per cent over last year. Offence is up this year and most of the star players (quarterbacks) are still standing, which may explain the bump in interest.

Things are also looking up for the Toronto Indy. Sunday's race averaged 200,000 viewers on City and Sportsnet 360, up 5 per cent from last year. That's not a huge increase, but in this climate any increase is a good one.

Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:

1. MLB, Blue Jays at A's, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,100,000

2. MLB, Blue Jays at A's, Saturday, Sportsnet: 913,000

3. MLB, Blue Jays at A's, Friday, Sportsnet: 796,000

4. CFL, Lions at Roughriders, Saturday, TSN: 668,000

5. CFL, Tiger-Cats at Alouettes, Friday, TSN: 557,000

6. Golf, Open Championship final round, Sunday, CTV-TSN: 450,000 (NBC audience not measured)

7. Golf, Open Championship third round, Saturday, CTV-TSN: 374,000 (NBC audience not measured)

8. Auto racing, Toronto Indy. Sunday, City-Sportsnet 360: 200,000

9. MLS, Orlando City at Whitecaps, Saturday, TSN: 198,000

10. Auto racing, NASCAR Sprint Cup New Hampshire 301, Sunday, TSN: 182,000

11. Calgary Stampede, Rangeland Derby, Friday, Sportsnet One: 133,000

THREE TO WATCH

Great Day for Canada: For most of the last decade, the Canadian Open has suffered from a lack of star power, thanks mainly to being relegated to an undesirable slot on the heels of the British Open. But in the past few years, thanks mainly to the pull of sponsor RBC, things have been looking up. They certainly are looking up this year as defending Jason Day, who happens to be the top-ranked golfer in the world, defends his title against the likes of Dustin Johnson, the second-ranked golfer on the planet. Coverage starts Thursday (7 a.m. ET , TSN.)

Eugenie's tune-up: With the Rogers Cup less than a week away, the mercurial Eugenie Bouchard gets an opportunity to hone her game in Washington this week at the Citi Open (4 p.m. ET, Thursday, TSN2.)

Le fin: After the better part of a month spent cycling up and down mountains, past fields and through unruly mobs, the competitors in the Tour de France finally hit the finish line (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET, Sportsnet.)

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