As if the Toronto Argonauts didn't have enough things to worry about, they're now taking a serious beating at the gate and on TV thanks to their baseball-playing roommates.
The Toronto Blue Jays are on a major roll both on the field and on the TV people meters, and the poor Argos have become collateral damage. The Argos hit frightening lows in both ticket sales and ratings on the weekend, and there's little doubt the Jays have to accept a large part of the blame.
With the Jays sucking up all the sports oxygen in Toronto, the Argos drew a paltry 14,748 paying customers for Sunday's game against the Ottawa Redblacks -- the smallest crowd they've drawn in Toronto since 2003.
And going head-to-head against the Jays on TV didn't help, either. Sunday's game averaged only 324,000 viewers -- barely half of last year's season average and one of the lowest CFL numbers in recent memory. The Jays drew an average of 1.2 million viewers that afternoon, which no doubt accounted for a good portion of the low number for the Argos' win over Ottawa.
Yes, it was the kind of Sunday afternoon in the Toronto area that keeps people outdoors. But 1.2 million managed to flee the sun and surf to watch the Jays pummel the Angels, so that really wasn't a huge factor. If people are engaged, they'll find a way to watch the game regardless of the other distractions.
It should be considered an embarrassment to the Argos and the CFL that the game finished behind the PGA Wyndham Championship, hardly a major tournament.
At this point, it does appear to be a Southern Ontario thing. The Calgary-Saskatchewan game basically went head-to-head with the Jays on Saturday night and impressively attracted 782,000 viewers. Friday's Hamilton-Edmonton game also pulled in a decent audience of 521,000 despite starting only an hour before the Jays did.
What's even sadder for the Argos is that the game with Ottawa was a pretty entertaining one that went down to the final seconds. That means providing drama and entertainment isn't enough to draw a crowd -- neither in person or on television. (Ottawa plays a role in this, too, but at least the second-year Redblacks are drawing fans to their stadium.)
Sunday's game might have been a blip, but with NHL training camps not far off and baseball playoffs looming, things could get worse for the Argos. While that may seem like a Toronto problem, the fact is that it could affect the entire league.
Most of the ad agencies that fuel the TV rights escalation are located in Toronto. If the Argos, and thus the CFL, become irrelevant in Toronto it's only a matter of time before the ad buyers start losing interest.
Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television for the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. MLB, Blue Jays at Angels, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,200,000
2. MLB, Blue Jays at Angels, Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,090,000
3. MLB, Blue Jays at Angels, Friday, Sportsnet: 957,000
4. CFL, Stampeders at Roughriders, Saturday, TSN: 782,000
5. CFL, Ticats at Eskimos, Friday, TSN: 521,000
6. PGA, Wyndham Championship final round, Sunday, Global: 334,000
7. PGA, Wyndham Championship third round, Saturday, Global: 332,000
8. CFL, Redblacks at Argos, Sunday, TSN: 324,000
9. Auto racing, F1 Belgian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 286,000
10. UFC, Holloway vs. Oliveira, Sunday, TSN: 260,000
11. MLB, Indians at Yankees, Saturday, Sportsnet: 240,000
12. Athletics, World Championships, Saturday, CBC: 218,000
13. Athletics, World Championships, Sunday, CBC: 215,000
14. Auto racing, NASCAR Iriwin 400, Saturday, TSN: 212,000
15. MLB, Indians at Yankees, Friday, Sportsnet: 178,000
16. Soccer, Newcastle at Manchester United, Saturday, TSN: 174,000
17. Soccer, Manchester City at Everton, Sunday, Sportsnet: 154,000
18. MLS, Dallas at Whitecaps, Saturday, TSN: 152,000
19. MLB, Giants at Pirates, Sunday, TSN: 137,000
20. Auto racing, NASCAR Xfinity 300, Friday, TSN: 136,000
21. Soccer, Southampton at Watford, Sunday, TSN: 125,000
22. Tennis, Western and Southern final, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 122,000
22. Soccer, Tottenham at Leicester, Saturday, Sportsnet: 122,000
24. Soccer, Chelsea at West Bromfield, Sunday, TSN: 118,000
25. MLS, Orlando at TFC, Saturday, TSN: 110,000
THREE TO WATCH
Ranger danger? The Toronto Blue Jays are on a roll, fresh off destroying one of their rivals for a wild-card berth last weekend in Anaheim. But the Texas Rangers look like they might be able to offer more - or some - opposition in their quest for a postseason spot. The teams open a three-game series in Texas starting Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.)
On the road: On paper, Wednesday's Champions League rematch between Manchester United and Club Brugge kind of resembles a Jays-Angels series, especially when you take into account United's 3-1 opening victory. But the Brits have a tendency to struggle on the road, so this could be more interesting than it looks (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m ET, TSN.)
Teeing it up: With golf's majors in the books for 2015, attention swings to things like the Fed Ex Cup playoffs and Ryder Cup. The Fed Ex playoffs get rolling this week, with Jordan Spieth holding a commanding lead but won't be coasting with the likes of Jason Day and Bubba Watson in his rear-view mirror. It all starts Thursday (2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel.)