When the World Series participants were determined earlier this month, many predicted a ratings dud based on the size of the markets and the lack of star power.
Who outside of those midwest types in Missouri and those latte-sippers by the bay would be interested in these two teams, they asked. Usually such predictions turn out to be wrong. In fact, some of the most-watched World Series involved some of baseball's smallest markets. (The fact that none has come in the last 28 years is another matter for another time.)
But so far, the lack of allure surrounding the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants is playing out in the TV ratings. Sportsnet is averaging 542,000 viewers for its World Series coverage, down 8 per cent from last season's Boston-St. Louis series, which averaged 594,000 for six games. An 8 per cent drop isn't anything to worry about, especially when you throw in the vagaries produced by having the games also airing on Fox, a channel that isn't counted in the Canadian ratings system.
What is worrisome is that last year's ratings were down 22 per cent from the previous World Series. That means two consecutive seasons of ratings decreases and those kind of trend tends to worry the networks. The World Series has been losing viewers for decades and a continuation of that trend does not bode well, although regular season ratings have been solid. Go figure.
At least Sportsnet is doing better than Fox, whose ratings are down 14 per cent in the U.S. But in Fox's case, they're basically on par with 2012 audiences, so there's no real worrisome trend there.
All is not lost, though. Should the Royals win Tuesday night, ratings on Sportsnet could easily surpass last season's. Ratings tend to grow the longer a series continues, so Game 6 should produce a big audience and Game 7 might be huge.
You can be sure that's what the networks are praying for.
As for non-baseball ratings, Hockey Night In Canada continues to produce strong audiences for Sportsnet, at least for the early game. But Rogers is quickly realizing that without the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens, the late game may struggle to find big audiences. Saturday's Capitals-Flames game didn't even break the 500,000 mark.
Here are the most-watched English-language sports events on Canadian televsion for last weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. NHL, Bruins-Leafs/Devils-Sens/Wings-Flyers/Rangers-Habs, Saturday, CBC: 2,200,000
2. NFL, Colts at Steelers, Sunday, CTV: 784,000
3. NFL, Bills-Jets/Bears-Pats/Seahawks-Panthers, Sunday, CTV: 748,000
4. NHL, Hockey Night In Canada pregame, Saturday, CBC: 684,000
5. CFL, Lions at Blue Bombers, Saturday, TSN: 680,000
6. CFL, Ticats at Argonauts, Saturday, TSN: 601,000
7. World Series, Royals at Giants, Saturday, Sportsnet: 599,000 (Fox viewers not measured)
8. CFL, Roughriders at Stampeders, Friday, TSN: 594,000
9. World Series. Royals at Giants, Friday, Sportsnet: 554,000 (Fox viewers not measured)
10. World Series, Royals at Giants, Sunday, Sportsnet: 541,000 (Fox viewers not measured)
11. NHL, Capitals at Flames, Saturday, CBC: 496,000
12. CFL, Alouettes at RedBlacks, Friday, TSN: 424,000
13. NFL, Lions vs. Falcons, Sunday, TSN: 423,000
14. NHL, Senators at Blackhawks, Sunday, City: 407,000
15. Auto racing, NASCAR Goody's 500, Sunday, TSN: 378,000
16. NFL, Packers at Saints, Sunday, TSN: 363,000 (NBC viewers not measured)
17. NHL, Rogers Home Town Hockey pregame, Sunday, City: 259,000
18. NHL, Canucks at Avalanche, Friday, Sportsnet One: 232,000
19. EPL, Chelsea at Manchester United, Sunday, Sportsnet: 228,000
20. NFL, Eagles at Cardinals, Sunday, TSN: 181,000
21. MLS, Rapids at Whitecaps, Saturday, TSN: 165,000
22. EPL, Hull City at Liverpool, Saturday, Sportsnet: 108,000
23. EPL, Leicester at Swansea, Saturday, Sportsnet: 106,000
24. Football, NCAA games, Saturday, TSN: 103,000
25. Soccer, Canada vs. Japan, Saturday, Sportsnet: 76,000
THREE TO WATCH
Tonight, the world: This year's edition of the Fall Classic doesn't feature any of baseball's glamour teams, but the underdog Kansas City Royals and biennial champion San Francisco Giants are producing some pretty good baseball. The Royals need a win on Tuesday to force a seventh game, which might stir a few hearts out there. Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet and Fox.
Raptors redux: The most grammatically challenged team in basketball (We the north?) will give their fans an idea of whether or not they were on to something last spring or that playoff appearance was simply a blip. Armed with the kind of confidence that only success can breed, the Toronto Raptors open their NBA season against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN.
Men and women with brooms: In most countries, the first sign of winter usually involves things like snow or plummeting temperatures. In many parts of Canada, it's the first sound of brushes being put to ice and someone yelling ``Hurry hard." The curling season kicks off -- or sweeps off -- with the Grand Slam of Curling Masters. Coverage starts Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.