This might have been the last hurrah before the dawn of the Rogers hockey monster, but Bell Media's big investment in football paid huge dividends on the weekend.
Between the CFL and NFL, Bell-owned TSN and CTV combined attracted a total of 9,436,000 viewers on the weekend. That's the kind of number that Rogers would be happy to pull in when its national package debuts next month.
Surprisingly, the biggest contributor to that total was the NFL, with two games in the top four -- including the most-watched event of the weekend. Sunday's Super Bowl rematch between Denver and Seattle averaged more than 1 million viewers -- almost 100,000 more than the Ottawa-Saskatchewan CFL game.
The CFL usually outdraws the NFL when the two go head-to-head, but it was pretty hard to top a game that actually lived up to the hype. The CFL game had no hype attached to it -- a 1-9 expansion team against an 8-3 defending champion playing at home -- but still managed to grab just short of 1 million viewers. A surprisingly competitive game and a wild-and-crazy, only-in-the-CFL finish didn't hurt.
What's amazing is that the two most-watched games were played simultaneously at 4 p.m. on Sunday. That means an awful lot of people were watching football at that time, something Bell has to be very happy about.
NFL fans will also be happy that their game outdrew what the CFL had to offer, no doubt making the point that Canadians are finally waking up and latching on to ``real football." Of course, CFL fans have been boasting about their league's dominance for weeks, so they probably deserve to take a bit of a beatdown.
But none of that matters to Bell. It's just going to enjoy the fact that it has cornered the Canadian market on football, period.
Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television for the past weekend, according to BBM Canada overnight ratings:
1. NFL, Broncos at Seahawks, Sunday, CTV: 1,012,000
2. CFL, RedBlacks at Roughriders, Sunday, TSN: 917,000
3. CFL, Eskimos at Tiger-Cats, Saturday, TSN: 751,000
4. NFL, early games, Sunday, CTV: 727,000
5. CFL, Argos at Lions, Friday, TSN: 663,000
6. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Saturday, Sportsnet: 581,000
7. CFL, Stampeders at Alouettes, Sunday, TSN: 467,000
8. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Friday, Sportsnet: 434,000
9. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Sunday, Sportsnet: 408,000
10. NFL, Steelers at Panthers, Sunday, TSN: 356,000 (NBC viewers not measured)
11. Auto racing, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Sunday, TSN2: 244,000
12. Auto racing, F1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 165,000
13. Soccer, Liverpool at West Ham, Saturday, Sportsnet: 149,000
14. Soccer, Chelsea at Manchester City, Sunday, Sportsnet: 120,000
15. Soccer, English Premier League, Saturday, TSN: 103,000
16. MLS, Whitecaps at Timbers, Saturday, TSN: 97,000
17. Soccer, Manchester United at Leicester, Sunday, TSN: 95,000
18. Soccer, Newcastle at Hull City, Saturday, Sportsnet: 85,000
THREE TO WATCH
An ice time: In many quarters, watching pre-season hockey ranks with watching paint dry or tuning in to pre-season football. But for lovers of all thinks shinny-related, there's no such thing as a bad game -- especially after a long puck-free summer. Those keen on watching minor leaguers and fourth-liners posing as front-line players have a full slate of games this week on various Rogers channels, starting Tuesday with the Kraft Hockeyville game between San Jose and Vancouver (9 p.m. ET, Sportsnet 360.)
Up close and personal: Considering all the bad news that's surrounded the NFL in recent weeks, a league-produced documentary on a player might be taken with a large grain of salt. But Sean Taylor: A Football Life promises an unvarnished, in-depth look at the late NFL defensive back who was the victim of a robbery. Friday, 9 p.m. ET, NFL Network.
Bye, bye Derek: Baseball fans will get their final look at future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter on Sunday after a month of his travelling retirement show. Fittingly, his swan song comes against long-time rival Boston. Sunday, 1:30 p.m ET (Sportsnet 360.)