The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Canadian medals boost CBC's Olympic fortunes

Apparently reports of the death of the Olympics have been greatly exaggerated.

Prior to Rio, just as has been the case prior to every other Olympics in the past few decades, there were reports of dark days ahead. If one were to believe the media coverage, Rio would experience every disaster short of plagues of locusts and rivers of fire, we were warned.

Worse, with corruption running rampant and a major steroid scandal on the front pages, there were predictions that the public would cease to care about this quadrennial festival of toned flesh.

Sure, Rio had its problems, and not all of them involved Ryan Lochte.

But as for caring, well that seemed to be the case south of the border, where NBC saw television ratings drop 13 per cent from London in 2012 even though these Games were in a much friendlier time zone.

But in Canada, there is no sign that anybody is tiring of all this higher, faster, stronger stuff.

The CBC reports that Rio was the most-watched Summer Games in Canadian history, with 32.1 million Canadians tuning in at some point. The total average of 1.27 million viewers per minute on CBC exceeded the average from London by 11 per cent.

In itself, that's not really surprising considering that this time around the prime-time events were all live. That was reflected in the prime-time ratings, which averaged 1.87 million a night and shot up 23 per cent over London.

The reason for this Olympic love-fest? Medals.

Put a maple leaf on somebody's jersey or singlet, have them win or at least come close, and Canadians go crazy. This was a massive medal haul for Canada and it was reflected in the ratings.

And they watched the marquee events in huge numbers, especially those involving sprinter Andre De Grassse.

The most-watched event was the men's 200-metres showdown between Jamaica's Usain Bolt and De Grasse, peaking at 7.2 million.

Next was the men's 100, featuring the same two guys, at 6.9 million. Then came the men's 4x100 relay, featuring guess who, at 5.3 million.

The women's 4x100 medley relay swim final hit 4.8 million, while the men's 200 semi attracted 4.5 million.
The others that topped 4 million were Penny Oleksiak's gold-medal swim (how did they know?) in the 200 freestyle (4.3 million) and the closing ceremony.

That last number tells you a lot about these Games. The opening ceremony drew only 3.1 million, meaning that Canadians became more engaged as the Games went on.

Who knows what another week might have produced?

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

1. Olympics, Prime-time coverage, Sunday, CBC: 2,825,000

2. Olympics, Prime-time coverage, Friday, CBC/TSN/Sportsnet: 2,364,000

3. Olympics, Prime-time coverage, Saturday, CBC/Sportsnet: 1,658,000

4. Olympics, Late-night coverage, Saturday, CBC/Sportsnet: 1,407,000

5. MLB, Blue Jays at Indians, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,080,000

6. Olympics, Daytime coverage, Friday, CBC/TSN/Sportsnet: 1,049,000

7. Olympics, Daytime coverage, Saturday, CBC/TSN: 1,019,008.

8. Olympics, Late-night coverage, Friday, CBC/Sportsnet: 997,000

9. Olympics, Daytime coverage, Sunday, CBC/TSN: 986,000

10. MLB, Blue Jays at Indians, Saturday, Sportsnet: 910,000

11. MLB, Blue Jays at Indians, Friday, Sportsnet One: 801,000

12. Olympics, Morning coverage, Saturday, CBC/TSN/Sportsnet: 670,000

13. Olympics, Morning coverage, Sunday, CBC/TSN/Sportsnet: 575,000

14, CFL, Stampeders at Lions, Friday, TSN: 531,000

15, CFL, Roughriders at Tiger-Cats, Saturday, TSN: 435,000

16. Olympics, Morning coverage, Friday, CBC/Sportsnet/TSN: 403,000

17. CFL, Eskimos at Argonauts, Saturday, TSN: 361,000

18. CFL, Alouettes at Redblacks, Friday, TSN: 314,000

19. MLB, Cubs at Rockies, Sunday, Sportsnet: 152,000

20. Auto racing, NASCAR NRA  Night Race, Sunday, TSN: 138,000

21. PGA, Wyndham Championship final round, Sunday, Global: 112,000

22. Horse racing, Breeders Stakes, Sunday, TSN: 92,000


The English patience: English Premier League soccer continues the early part of the season with a full slate of games this weekend. One of the better ones features Tottenham and Liverpool (Saturday, 7 a.m. ET, Sportsnet.)

Canadian rivalry: It's not quite Leafs and Canadiens, but Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact have a certain dislike for each other that usually produces a good game. They go at it Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN.)

Cat and pony show: Twof of the hotter teams in the CFL  go at it this week as the Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats go head to head (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, TSN.) Both are coming off big wins, which should mean something (though not always.)