The Great Canadian Ratings Report: How high can Blue Jays ratings climb?

Can David Price and the Blue Jays take the next step in TV ratings? THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Can David Price and the Blue Jays take the next step in TV ratings? THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

As the Toronto Blue Jays continue to coax derrieres into couches across Canada, you have to wonder just how far this whole horsehide love affair can go.

With the Jays continuing their thrilling drive to give Canada its first post-season baseball in more than two decades, audience numbers are going as high as the 2-million mark. They've only crossed that line once, but surely will once the playoffs start.

Can the Blue Jays, however, get themselves into the upper atmosphere of Canada's sports broadcasting world, that rarefied airspace dominated by the NHL?

Last spring's Ottawa-Montreal series, for example, averaged more than 3-million viewers per game. In order to get into that league, a Jays playoff series would have to double the numbers the team has put up in the past few weeks.

That may be a bit of a stretch, at least as far as a division championship series or league championship series go. There just may not be another 1.6 or 1.7 million baseball fans in this country. If there are, why haven't they been watching during what has basically been a two-week playoff series?

Maybe they've been on vacation, or are watching MasterChef Canada until the games really start meaning something.

Getting over the 3-million mark certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility. If the Jays win their division and end up playing the hated New York Yankees somewhere down the line, numbers could hit that mark, especially if it's a long series.

And a World Series appearance is certain to drive ratings even higher than that.

The past weekend's ratings produced other questions, as well:

Is rugby a growth sport? The numbers for the Rugby World Cup weren't huge, but ratings are up 48 per cent over the last go-round. TSN can build on that audience.

Will Toronto FC ever draw solid ratings? Despite a competitive team for a change, the MLS team is still struggling to draw an audience. Last weekend's game produced 100,000 viewers -- double what the team drew the week before. That's a welcome improvement, but still nowhere near what the team's owners were expecting when they shelled out millions for players.

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

1. MLB, Red Sox at Blue Jays, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,750,000

2. MLB, Red Sox at Blue Jays, Saturday, Sportsnet: 1,730,000

3. MLB, Red Sox at Blue Jays, Sunday, Sportsnet: 1,230,000

4. NFL, Cowboys-Eagles/Ravens-Raiders, Sunday, CTV: 841,000

5. CFL, RedBlacks at Roughriders, Saturday, TSN: 740,000

6. CFL, Lions at Stampeders, Friday, TSN: 550,000

7. NFL, Early games, Sunday, CTV: 549,000

8. NFL, Seahawks at Packers, Sunday, TSN: 503,000 (NBC viewers not measured)

9. CFL, Eskimos at Tiger-Cats, Saturday, TSN: 472,000

10. CFL, Blue Bombers at Alouettes, Sunday, TSN: 293,000

11. PGA, BMW Championship final round, Sunday, Global: 256,000

12. Auto racing, F1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 254,000

13. Auto racing, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Sunday, TSN: 235,000

14. Rugby World Cup, Canada vs. Ireland, Sunday, TSN: 195,000

15. Rugby World Cup, Japan vs. South Africa, Sunday, TSN: 176,000

16. PGA, BMW Championship third round, Saturday, Global: 172,000

17. MLB, Yankees at Mets, Sunday, TSN: 149,000

18. Soccer, Manchester United at Southampton, Sunday, Sportsnet: 143,000

18. MLB, Pirates at Dodgers, Sunday, Sportsnet: 143,000

20. Soccer, Seattle at Whitecaps, Saturday, TSN: 138,000

21. Rugby World Cup, New Zealand vs. Argentina, Sunday, TSN: 128,000

22. MLB, Pirates at Dodgers, Saturday, Sportsnet: 118,000

23. Rugby World Cup, England vs. Fiji, Friday, TSN: 109,000

24. Soccer, West Ham at Manchester City, Saturday, TSN: 105,000

25. Soccer, Colorado at Toronto FC, Saturday, TSN: 101,000


Jay days: With Toronto on the edge of a nervous breakdown and baseball fans across the country living and dying with every pitch, the Blue Jays have provided Canada with a rare treat: exciting baseball in September. The Jays drive to the division title continues this week with the Tampa Bay Rays moving in once the New York Yankees leave town (Friday, 7 p.m., ET, Sportsnet.)

Golfing for dollars: There's a few million dollars at stake as the PGA winds up its season this weekend with the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Red-hot Jason Day, no doubt inspired by his victory at the Canadian Open, has the lead heading into the season ender (Thursday, 1 p.m., ET, Golf Channel.)

An ice time: Puckheads deprived of their nourishment since the NHL wound up its season in June get relief this week as the pre-season gets rolling. The rebuilding Maple Leafs take on the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, Sportnset 360.)