The Toronto Blue Jays are the gift that keeps giving for Rogers. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of Rogers' bank accounts growing every time Josh Donaldson hits a home run or David Price spits out his mouthpiece.
Not only is attendance soaring and TV ratings threatening to outdraw Hockey Night In Canada, but audiences on Rogers' Sportsnet 590 The FAN are venturing into uncharted territory.
Since the Jays remade themselves at the trade deadline, the FAN's audience share of its target demographic (those aged 25 to 54) has soared from 3.0 to 5.6 -- an 87 per cent increase. But that's just fans wanting to have their say or hear the latest tidbits from the station's growing coterie of baseball yakkers.
The games themselves are making Jerry Howarth a household name. During the 7-11 p.m. period, when Jays games are typically on the radio, audiences have exploded. The FAN's audience share in that time slot has jumped from 4.3 to 12.3 -- a 186 per cent increase.
And the playoffs haven't even started yet.
The television numbers also continue to grow. Last weekend's four-game series in New York averaged 1.72 million viewers each, the second highest in Sportsnet's 17-year history. (For some inexplicable reason a recent series against Cleveland averaged 1.78 million.)
Ratings like that have driven the team's season average to 880,000, a 49 per cent increase over last year to date.
While the success of the Jays is hurting some sports audiences -- CFL ratings are down 12 per cent on TSN -- they didn't affect the NFL on its opening week. Taking advantage of a Jays rainout, Thursday's opener between New England and Pittsburgh averaged 708,000 on TSN -- a 40 per cent improvement on last year's opening game. That doesn't factor in the unknown numbers who watched that game on NBC, so that should bode well for the NFL this season.
Despite competing with the Jays and the CFL, the NFL did well on the weekend, too. CTV's early games were up 14 per cent over last season's first weekend, while the late game showed a 20 per cent jump.
And while the Saskatchewan-Winnipeg game (702,000) fared well against the Jays on Saturday, the Friday night Hamilton-Toronto battle was well below average. Sunday's Ottawa-B.C. game (464,000) was outdrawn by CTV's late afternoon NFL package (817,000.)
Maybe that explains what happened with Toronto FC, whose Sunday afternoon game against New England drew all of 50,000 viewers to Sportsnet 360.
Here are the most-watched English-language sports events from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees Game 2, Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,870,000
2. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees Game 1, Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,760,000
3. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,730,000
4. MLB, Blue Jays at Yankees, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,430,000
5. NFL, Ravens-Broncos/Saints-Cards, Sunday, CTV: 817,000
6. CFL, Roughriders at Bombers, Saturday, TSN: 702,000
7. NFL, early games, Sunday, CTV: 685,000
8. CFL, Stampeders at Eskimos, Saturday, TSN: 635,000
9. NFL, Giants at Cowboys, Sunday, TSN: 520,000 (NBC viewers not measured)
10. CFL, Redblacks at Lions, Sunday, TSN: 464,000
11. CFL, Ticats at Argonauts, Friday, TSN: 418,000
12. Tennis, U.S. Open men's final, Sunday, TSN: 391,000
13. Curling, Grand Slam Tour Challenge men's final, Sunday, Sportsnet: 372,000
14. Tennis, U.S. Open women's final, Saturday, TSN: 265,000
15. Soccer, Liverpool at Manchester United, Saturday, Sportsnet: 236,000
16. Curling, Grand Slam Tour Challenge women's final, Sunday, Sportsnet: 204,000
17. Equestrian, Spruce Meadows show jumping, Sunday, CBC: 173,000
18. Auto racing, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Saturday, TSN: 163,000
19. Curling, Grand Slam Tour Challenge men's quarters, Saturday, Sportsnet: 144,000
20. Basketball, Canada vs. Venezuela, Friday, TSN: 143,000
21. Soccer, English Premier League games, Saturday, TSN: 142,000
22. Equestrian, Spruce Meadows show jumping (evening), Saturday, CBC: 140,000
22. Curling, Grand Slam Tour Challenge (evening), Friday, Sportsnet: 140,000
24. Equestrian, Spruce Meadows show jumping (afternoon), Saturday, CBC: 136,000
25. Curling, Grand Slam Tour Challenge semifinals, Saturday, Sportsnet: 116,000
THREE TO WATCH
Real scrums: While Canadians are familiar with media scrums, especially with an election going on, many don't know much about the real thing. They'll have a chance to watch plenty of scrums during the Rugby World Cup from England, with coverage starting Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on TSN. The network will carry every game, including those involving 18th-ranked Canada.
Home, sweet home: After winning three of four in New York last weekend, the high-flying Blue Jays return to Toronto for their final home stand of the regular season. Needless to say, taking advantage of what the Rogers Centre has to offer is imperative if the team is to return to the post-season for the first time since Roberto Osuna was born. It all starts Friday (7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet) against the Red Sox, followed those pesky Yankees.
Golfing for dollars: After a one-week break to make room for the start of the NFL season, the PGA Fed Ex Cup playoffs continue with the BMW Championship. There's a $10 million prize at stake, which should bring out the best -- or worst -- in everybody (Thursday, 3 p.m. ET, Golf Channel.)