The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Blue Jays run sparks huge increase in baseball interest

The Toronto Blue Jays are drawing big audiences but also driving interest in baseball in general.
The Toronto Blue Jays are drawing big audiences but also driving interest in baseball in general.

The fact that Rogers and its wholly-owned subsidiary the Toronto Blue Jays are enjoying the fruits of the team's labours and drawing huge television audiences is an interesting story in itself.

But while the team's series-clinching win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday averaged a whopping 4.73 million viewers on Sportsnet is impressive, it's kind of what you'd expect for such a big event. That game's audience, for example, peaked at 7 million in the decisive 10th inning -- about the same number that watched Andre DeGrasse and Usain Bolt duel it out in the 200 metres at the Rio Olympics.

Big events draw big audiences.

What's really unusual is the way interest in the Jays has driven up interest in baseball. The third most-watched sports event over the holiday weekend, topped only by the Jays' two games, was Monday's series clincher between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. 

That game averaged 1.27 million viewers up against Monday Night Football, which managed to draw only 264,000 viewers to TSN (incidentally, less than half the audience that the day's earlier CFL doubleheader drew to the same channel -- well behind the 715,000 who watched the Eskimos and Alouettes on TSN and RDS.) 

That brought the average of the three-game series to 994,000 -- more than 200 per cent of what last year's Houston-Kansas City ALDS series averaged.

That surge was also seen in the National League games, which saw a 53 per cent jump over last year (prior to Monday's game (440,000).

The reason behind all that is the Jays, who produced the third most-watched game in Sportsnet's history Sunday night. 

Those numbers should continue to grow and could threaten to beat the Sportsnet record the Jays set last year in Game 6 against Kansas City (5.12 million.) Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:

1. MLB, Rangers at Blue Jays, Sunday, Sportsnet: 4,730,000

2. MLB, Blue Jays at Rangers, Friday, Sportsnet: 2,290,000

3. MLB, Red Sox at Indians, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,270,000

4. NFL, Pats-Browns/Eagles-Lions/Jets-Steelers, Texans-Vikes, Sunday, CTV/TSN: 921,000

5. NFL, Bills-Rams/Bengals-Cowboys/ Hawks-Broncos, Sunday, CTV/TSN: 897,000

6. MLB, Red Sox at Indians, Friday, Sportsnet: 882,000

7. CFL, Lions at Blue Bombers, Saturday, TSN: 801,000

8. CFL, Stampeders at Argonauts, Monday, TSN: 598,000

9. CFL, Eskimos at Alouettes, Monday, TSN: 580,000

10. NHL, Canucks at Oilers, Saturday, Sportsnet 360: 487,000

11. CFL, Roughriders at Redblacks, Friday, TSN: 467,000

12. MLB, Cubs at Giants, Monday, Sportsnet: 440,000

13. MLB, Dodgers at Nationals, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 391,000

13. MLB, Giants at Cubs, Friday, Sportsnet: 391,000

15. NHL, Maple Leafs at Red Wings, Saturday, TSN: 336,000

16. NFL, Buccaneers at Panthers, Monday, TSN: 264,000

17. NHL, Red Wings at Maple Leafs, Friday, Sportsnet 360: 221,000

18. Auto racing, NASCAR Bank of America 500, Sunday, TSN: 173,000

19. MLB, Dodgers at Nationals, Friday, Sportsnet One: 159,000

20. Martial arts, UFC 264 preliminaries, Saturday, TSN: 135,000

21. Auto racing, Japanese Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 130,000



Reach for the middle: It's not often that teams with losing records square off late in the season with first place in the East Division on the line. But that's what's stake when the 6-8 Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the 6-7-1 Ottawa Redblacks Friday (7 p.m. ET, TSN.)

Unfinished business: The last time the Toronto Blue Jays were in the American League final, the season ended with pinch-runner Dalton Pompey waiting patiently on third base in Kansas City. This time, the Jays aim to leave fewer runners standing as they open the ALCS against Cleveland (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.)

Host to host: The de-Stroumbolization of Hockey Night In Canada becomes official Saturday when the Canadian television institution kicks off its 2016-17 season with Ron MacLean back in the host's chair and George Stroumboulopoulos reportedly gone walkabout somewhere. Six of the seven Canadian teams are scheduled to play starting at 7 p.m. ET (CBC, Sportsnet, OMNI, City and Sportsnet One.)