With the Toronto Blue Jays approaching Hockey Night In Canada ratings, you have to wonder just how far this whole baseball mania thing can go.
Since the end of the Jose Reyes era, Sportsnet's Blue Jays broadcasts are setting records for the channel and are on a roll almost as good as the team's. Sportsnet has logged seven consecutive million-plus audiences in the past week, which is impressive enough in itself.
But add in the fact that this is happening in mid-August and the prospects for even bigger ratings and longer streaks seems very possible.
Consider the evidence thus far: Sunday's game against the New York Yankees averaged 1.43 million viewers, only 10,000 behind Sportsnet's largest-ever audience. That high-water mark was reached during the 2013 home opener, when big off-season deals had the faithful and bandwagon jumpers all in a tizzy.
In addition, the three-game series against New York averaged 1.19 million viewers per game. That's pretty impressive considering that prior to the mega-deals that thrust the Jays into the headlines, Sportsnet's broadcasts were averaging about 600,000 a game. They're now up to 684,000.
Now 1.19 million is basically half of what a Toronto Maple Leafs game draws on a Saturday night, so it's not realistic to claim that the Jays are poised to supplant those lovable losers in the nation's hearts, as some media outlets have suggested. But the potential is there, especially considering that the real drama won't even start until next month.
Two million per game might be a stretch, but the way this team has grabbed Canadians' attentions makes it a distinct possibility.
Also a distinct possibility is a surge in ratings for the CFL. So far, ratings have been so-so for a league that suffered a drop in audiences last season and hasn't really recovered this year.
But Saturday's Saskatchewan-Toronto game drew the biggest CFL audience of the year -- 864,000 -- and with Labour Day not far off, things could be looking up. The league has been far more competitive this year and once players figure out the rule changes, there will be fewer flags and more excitement.
That bodes well for a league that has taken a back seat to the Blue Jays for the first time in a decade.d
Here are the most-watched sports events from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,430,000
2. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,290,000
3. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,150,000
4. CFL, Roughriders at Argonauts, Saturday, TSN: 864,000
5. CFL, Blue Bombers at Tiger-Cats, Sunday, TSN: 525,000
6. CFL, Alouettes at Redblacks, Friday, TSN: 446,000
7. Parapan Games, opening ceremonies, Friday, CBC: 356,000
8. Parapan Games, prime-time coverage, Saturday, CBC: 343,000
9. MLB, Orioles at Angels, Sunday, Sportsnet: 288,000
10. Parapan Games, afternoon coverage, Sunday, CBC: 286,000
11. Auto racing, NASCAR Cheez-It 355, Sunday, TSN: 265,000
12. PGA, Bridgestone Invitational final round, Sunday, Global: 257,000
13. Soccer, West Ham at Arsenal, Sunday, TSN: 211,000
14. Soccer, Swansea at Chelsea, Saturday, TSN: 185,000
15. MLS, Salt Lake at Vancouver, Sunday, TSN: 182,000
15. MLB, Dodgers at Pirates, Saturday, Sportsnet: 182,000
17. UFC, Teixeira vs. Saint Preux, Saturday, TSN: 180,000
18. PGA, Bridgestone Invitational third round, Saturday, Global: 162,000
19. Soccer, Tottenham at Manchester United, Saturday, Sportsnet: 161,000
20. NFL, Steelers vs. Vikings, Sunday, TSN: 153,000 (NBC viewers not measured)
21. Parapan Games, afternoon coverage, Saturday, CBC: 145,000
22. MLB, Orioles at Angels, Friday, Sportsnet: 131,000
23. Soccer, EPL games, Sunday, TSN: 127,000
24. Soccer, Aston Villa at Bournemouth, Saturday, Sportsnet: 117,000
25. MLB, Kansas City at Toronto FC, Saturday, TSN: 112,000
26. MLB, Orioles at Angels, Saturday, Sportsnet: 105,000
THREE TO WATCH
Nete gains: Canadian tennis got a big boost last season from the rise of home-grown stars Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic. Both have had their challenges this year and Canadian fans will be watching closely to see if they can get things back together on home soil. Or, at least, on home artificial surface. Sportsnet has the Rogers Cup weekday coverage, starting at 11 a.m. ET each day, while CBC has the semifinals and the finals (12:30 and 3 p.m. ET, Sunday.)
Bunker mentality: The last time the PGA Championship was held at Whistling Straits (2010), a bunker dictated the outcome when Dustin Johnson lost the lead when he didn't realize he was in one. That particular bunker is gone, but there are still 1,000 sand traps on a course that should challenge the likes of Justin Spieth, Rory McIlroy and, yes, Johnson. Canadian David Hearn will try to continue his recent string of good outings, too. Coverage starts Thursday (2 p.m. ET, TSN.)
Grudge match: While last weekend's Jays-Yankees showdown in the Bronx wasn't lacking for drama, this weekend's rematch in Toronto should be a cracker. The Yankees will be out to show that they're not the pushovers they looked like last weekend, while the Jays need to stay on a roll to keep their division championship hopes alive. It all starts Friday (7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.)