The Great Canadian Ratings Report: NHL playoffs failed to produce big ratings for Rogers

Chicago Blackhawks’ Johnny Oduya raise the Stanley Cup on Monday, a game that produced disappointing ratings. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Blackhawks’ Johnny Oduya raise the Stanley Cup on Monday, a game that produced disappointing ratings. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The first year of Rogers 12-year, $5.2 billion dollar hockey gamble is in and the numbers are not pretty.

After a hot start in the playoffs, thanks to the presence of five Canadian-based teams, ratings took a nosedive in the latter rounds. According to Numeris research, total playoff ratings were down 20 per cent, thanks to a final that generated limited interest.

Ratings for the final were 12 per cent lower than last year and the lowest since 2009. Monday's deciding game between Tampa Bay and Chicago was also off 20 per cent from last season and was the least-watched Stanley Cup finale since the seventh game of the New Jersey-Anaheim series in 2003.

Audiences on CBC saw an 8 per cent drop while Sportsnet's hockey averages were 14 per cent below what TSN drew last year.

That's a rather shocking decrease considering that last year only one Canadian team made the playoffs.

The decrease is a bit of a mystery, especially with a final that produced some pretty competitive games. But it appears once the Canadian teams were knocked out, Canadian fans turned to baseball and other distractions such as the women's World Cup.

Whatever the reason, this can't be playing well with a company that predicted a 20 per cent increase in ratings this season. Add in a regular season that produced a ratings decrease from the previous season and Year One can only be labelled a major disappointment.

But there is some good news for Rogers. Thanks to an 11-game winning streak, the Toronto Blue Jays are picking up the slack. They hit a season high on Monday, scoring an average of 782,000 viewers for their game against the New York Mets, their biggest audience since the season opener. That was the third game in the last four that topped the 700,000 mark.

At the same time, the women's World Cup continues to produce big numbers. Going up against the sixth game of the Stanley Cup final, the Canada-Netherlands match on Monday averaged 1.8 million viewers on CTV and TSN.

Audiences for the tournament are four times what they were in 2011, though this event is benefitting from a more attractive time zone.

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

1. NHL, Lightning at Blackhawks, Monday, CBC: 2,620,000

2. NHL, Blackhawks at Lightning, Saturday, CBC: 2,400,000

3. Women's World Cup, Canada vs. Netherlands, Monday, CTV-TSN: 1,800,000

4. MLB, Blue Jays at Mets, Monday, Sportsnet: 782,000

5. MLB, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Friday, Sportsnet: 773,000

6. MLB, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Sunday, Sportsnet: 770,000

7. MLB, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Saturday, Sportsnet: 614,000

8. Women's World Cup, U.S. vs. Sweden, Friday, CTV: 611,000

9. NBA, Cavaliers at Warriors, Sunday, TSN: 497,000 (ABC viewers not measured)

10. CFL, Riders vs. Eskimos, Saturday, TSN: 371,000

11. Women's World Cup, Korea vs. Costa Rica, Saturday, TSN: 354,000

12. Women's World Cup, Japan vs. Cameroon, Friday, TSN: 266,000

13. Women's World Cup, Australia vs. Nigeria, Friday, TSN: 262,000

14. Women's World Cup, Brazil vs. Spain, Saturday, TSN: 255,000

15. Auto racing, NASCAR Quicken 400, Sunday, TSN: 239,000

16. Women's World Cup, Japan vs. Cameroon, Friday, TSN: 219,000

17. Auto racing, Toronto Indy, Sunday, City, Sportsnet One: 203,000

18. CFL, Lions vs. Stampeders, Friday, TSN: 191,000

19. PGA, St. Jude Classic final round, Sunday, Global: 176,000

20. Women's World Cup, England vs. Mexico, Saturday, CTV: 164,000

21. Women's World Cup, France vs. Colombia, Saturday, TSN: 160,000

22. MLB, Indians at Tigers, Saturday, Sportsnet: 154,000

22. MLB, Dodgers at Padres, Sunday, Sportsnet: 154,000

24. PGA, St. Jude Classic third round, Saturday, Global: 126,000


Major concerns: There's nothing like a golf major to get fans of the game quivering with excitement, unless you add Tiger Woods to the mix. Tiger hasn't won in a long time, but you can be sure that all cameras will be focused on him when things get rolling at Chambers Bay, Waahington. Coverage starts Thursday, 12 p.m. ET (TSN).

Jay days: There's a long way to go in this baseball season, but those inter-divisional games still mean a lot. That, and the fact that something weird always seems to happen when the Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles meet, makes this week's series even more intriguing. Things start Thursday, 7 p.m. ET (Sportsnet.)

Down to business: The first round of the women's World Cup is over and Canada managed to advance despite scoring only two goals. Their opponent is yet to be determined, but things get serious starting Saturday (CTV and TSN.)