The Great Canadian Ratings Report: No post-Olympics slump for Jays or CFL

The Toronto Blue Jays show no ill effects from any expected post-Olympics hangover.  (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)
The Toronto Blue Jays show no ill effects from any expected post-Olympics hangover. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)

Sometimes big events like the Olympics aren't really good for television.

Sure, ratings soar during the Games but once they're over, promoting non-Olympic fare is a lot like trying to force cheesecake on your dinner guests after a seven-course meal. There's a post-Olympic hangover that tends to send people as far from their televisions as possible, especially in summer.

But sometimes the Olympics act to stimulate the appetite for high-performance sports, which apparently is what has happened this summer.

Both the Toronto Blue Jays and the CFL, which saw ratings take a little dip during the Rio goings-on, bounced back in a big way over the weekend.

Despite a rather unattractive opponent in the lowly Minnesota Twins -- and there's no truth to the rumour that the team wants to change its name to the Lowly Minnesota Twins --- the Blue Jays drew huge audiences on the weekend.

The three-game series averaged 1.3 million viewers per game, the kind of numbers normally reserved for pennant runs and rivals like Boston and New York.

While last season's miracle drive looked like a once-in-a-decade sort of thing, it's possible that this year's Jays could do even better.

A comparable late-August series last season averaged 1 million viewers -- but that was against the Los Angeles Angels, who were contending at the time. For the Jays to easily top that in a series against the LMT is a hint of big things to come.

It was a good weekend for the CFL, too, which saw some strong numbers come from its first post-Olympics slate of games. The big one came Sunday as an average of 700,000 watched the Calgary Stampeders beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a 25 per cent over previous Sunday games this year.

Most interesting, though, was the fact that 2.4 million people watched some part of the game, no doubt lured in by the promise of quarterbacks and coaches wearing live microphones.

The rest of the weekend schedule fared well despite the lack of gimmicks. Friday's Montreal-Winnipeg game averaged 519,000 on TSN, but also drew another 166,000 to the RDS French broadcast for a total of 685,000.

With Labour Day's big games coming up, it's shaping up as a post-Olympic boom for the CFL.

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

1. MLB, Twins at Blue Jays, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,450,000

2. MLB, Twins at Blue Jays, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,430,000

3. MLB, Twins at Blue Jays, Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,020,000

4. CFL, Tiger-Cats at Stampeders, Sunday, TSN: 700,000

5. CFL, Roughriders at Eskimos, Friday, TSN: 607,000

6. CFL, Blue Bombers at Alouettes, Friday, TSN: 519,000

7. MLB, Cubs at Dodgers, Saturday, Sportsnet: 287,000

8. Auto racing, NASCAR Michigan 400, Sunday, TSN: 274,000

9. Auto racing, F1 Belgian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 255,000

10. MLB, Cubs at Dodgers, Sunday, Sportsnet: 236,000

11. PGA, Barclays Championship final round, Sunday, Global: 235,000

12. Soccer, Manchester United at Hull, Saturday, TSN: 215,000

13. MLB, Royals at Red Sox, Saturday, Sportsnet: 210,000

14. UFC, Maia vs. Condit, Saturday, TSN: 174,000

15. PGA, Barclays Championship third round, Saturday, Global: 135,000

16. MLB, Royals at Red Sox, Sunday, TSN: 127,000

17. MLS, Toronto FC at Montreal, Saturday, TSN: 116,000

18. UFC, Preliminaries, Saturday, TSN: 109,000

19. Soccer, Swansea at Leicester City, Saturday, TSN: 104,000



Net gains: The U.S. Open is always on tennis fans' must-watch list, but the strong Canadian presence this year makes this even more attractive. TSN has multiple-court coverage all week, starting at 11 a.m. ET most days.

Scrum time: Rugby was a big hit during the Olympics and even though that was the hyper-fast seven-player variety, it no doubt raised some curiosity about the full-squad game. The Premier League kicks off its season on Friday with Gloucester and Leicester cracking heads (2:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet World.)

Labours of hate: It's long been said that the CFL season doesn't really start until Labour Day and a lot of teams are hoping that's the case. After Winnipeg and Saskatchewan renew unpleasantries on Sunday (3 p.m ET, TSN), plenty of hate will be on display Monday between Calgary and Edmonton (3 p.m. ET, TSN) and Toronto and Hamilton (6:30 p.m. ET, TSN.)