The Great Canadian Ratings Report: NHL playoffs give Rogers a glimpse of its dream

Chris Zelkovich
Eh Game
All-Canadian showdowns are helping Rogers in its war with TSN. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
All-Canadian showdowns are helping Rogers in its war with TSN. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Back when Rogers stunned the Canadian broadcasting world by spending an unprecedented $5.2 billion on an unprecedented 12-year deal with the NHL, the communications giant talked about two things (other than making huge amounts of money.)

One was a huge increase in television ratings, as much as 20 per cent in the first year. For a variety of reasons, including unrealistic expectations, that didn't happen -- at least not in the regular season.

The other was the belief that the deal would vault Sportsnet over TSN as Canada's most-watched specialty network. That hasn't happened yet, but last weekend provided Rogers with an opportunity to see what could be.

Thanks to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the presence of four Canadian teams, CBC (aka, Proxy of Rogers) dominated. But after that, with the exception of one Toronto Raptors game on TSN, it was all Sportsnet. (And the fact that all of CBC's ad revenue from the NHL goes into the Rogers vault no doubt made the weekend even more enjoyable for the communications giant.)

This won't last, of course. Once hockey is over, TSN will likely regain the lead thanks to the CFL while Rogers will hang its hopes on the Toronto Blue Jays. But once hockey starts up again, things could get very interesting in the long battle between Rogers and Bell Media.

One property neither can expect to get any help from is the MLS. Sunday's Toronto FC-Orlando game attracted an average audience of 48,000 viewers. Yes, it was up against hockey playoffs, but by any yardstick that's a pretty small following.

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

1. NHL, Canadiens at Senators, Sunday, CBC: 3,760,000

2. NHL, Canucks at Flames, Saturday, CBC: 2,800,000

2. NHL, Senators at Canadiens, Friday, CBC: 2,800,000

4. NHL, Red Wings at Lightning, Saturday, CBC: 1,070,000

5. NBA, Raptors at Wizards, Friday, TSN: 489,000

6. MLB, Blue Jays at Rays, Saturday, Sportsnet One: 480,000

7. NHL, Capitals at Islanders, Saturday, Sportsnet: 462,000 (NBC audience not measured)

8. NHL, Wild at Blues, Friday, Sportsnet: 442,000

9. NHL, Penguins at Rangers, Friday, Sportsnet: 431,000

10. NHL, Blues at Wild, Sunday, Sportsnet: 423,000 (NBC audience not measured)

11. NHL, Predators at Blackhawks, Saturday, Sportsnet: 399,000 (NBC audience not measured)

12. MLB, Blue Jays at Rays, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 333,000

13. MLB, Blue Jays at Rays, Friday, Sportsnet One: 310,000

14. NBA, Raptors at Wizards. Sunday, TSN: 306,000

15. PGA, New Orleans Classic final rounds, Sunday, Global: 230,000

16. Soccer, Chelsea at Arsenal, Sunday, TSN: 215,000

17. Soccer, Aston Villa at Manchester City, Saturday, Sportsnet: 165,000

18. Hockey, World under-18 championship final, Sunday, TSN: 159,000

19. UFC, 186 preliminaries, Saturday, TSN: 150,000

20. PGA, New Orleans Classic second round, Saturday, Global: 130,000

21. Hockey, World under-18 championship semifinal 1, Saturday, TSN: 128,000

22. Soccer, Manchester United at Everton, Sunday, Sportsnet: 125,000

23. Hockey, World under-18 championship semifinal 2, Saturday, TSN: 120,000

THREE TO WATCH

Seventh heaven: There's nothing better than Game 7 in any playoff series. Backs are to the walls, it's winner take all, there's no tomorrow for the loser, it's winner take all. And you can add about 14 more cliches to that list and no doubt you will hear them all when the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning meet in their series finale (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., ET, CBC.)

Anyone feel a draft?: It's not exactly a sporting event, unless you consider TV announcers competing to see who utters the most superlatives, but the NFL Draft can still draw a crowd. Will Marcus Mariota go first? Or will it be Jameis Winston? Or Leonard Williams? All will be revealed as viewers are treated to 15 minutes of entertainment packed into a three-hour broadcast (Thursday, 8 p.m., ET, TSN.)

World weary: The world hockey championship tournament doesn't usually fare that well in the TV ratings, mainly because it's played smack dab in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But with Sidney Crosby on board for Team Canada, there might be a few more eyeballs directed at the Czech Republic this year. Things get started with Canada taking on Latvia (Friday, 10 a.m. ET, TSN.)

 

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