While baseball takes a back seat to hockey and football among Canadian sports fans, there's no denying that the grand old game still has a significant following.
Despite the late-season collapse of the Toronto Blue Jays, Canadians obviously aren't too depressed to watch other teams show how it's done. So far through the post-season, ratings have been strong. That may not continue once the pucks start to fly, but for now Rogers has to be very happy with the results.
On Saturday, for example, despite going head-to-head with the Edmonton-Toronto football game, the San Francisco-Washington playoff game drew an average of 504,000 viewers to Sportsnet. Maybe even more impressive was the fact that Friday's game between the same two teams drew 309,000 for a 3 p.m. ET start. Maybe there are more unemployed people than we thought.
While this season's averages aren't available at this time, those numbers compare favourably with some of last year's audiences. For example, the deciding game of the NLCS last year between the Dodgers and Cardinals averaged only 416,000. The league championship series averaged 383,000 viewers in what was a down year for Sportsnet's baseball offerings.
To attract audiences over 500,000 during the division series is pretty impressive.
While there have been some great story lines -- the stunning upset by Kansas City and the Baltimore Orioles sweep of Detroit -- the real factor in these ratings may be the Jays. Audiences increased as the team flirted with its first playoff appearance in two decades. Many of those viewers obviously decided to stick around.
Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television for the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. CFL, Stampeders at Roughriders, Friday, TSN: 913,000
2. NFL, Chiefs-Niners/Jets-Chargers, Sunday, CTV: 811,000
3. NFL, 1 p.m. games, Sunday, CTV: 782,000
4. CFL, Eskimos at Argonauts, Saturday, TSN: 707,000
5. CFL, Lions at Tiger-Cats, Saturday, TSN: 705,000
6. CFL, Blue Bombers at RedBlacks, Friday, TSN: 586,000
7. MLB, Giants at Nationals, Saturday, Sportsnet: 504,000
8. NFL, Bengals at Patriots, Sunday, TSN: 484,000 (NBC viewers not measured)
9. MLB, Royals at Angels, Sunday, Sportsnet: 428,000
10. MLB, Tigers at Athletics, Sunday, Sportsnet: 400,000
11. MLB, Cardinals at Dodgers, Friday, Sportsnet: 396,000
12. NHL, Red Wings at Maple Leafs, Friday, Sportsnet One: 337,000
13. Auto racing, NASCAR Casino 400, Sunday, TSN: 313,000
14. MLB, Giants at Nationals, Friday, Sportsnet: 309,000
15. NHL, Oilers at Canucks, Saturday, Sportsnet: 259,000
16. MLB, Royals at Angels, Friday, Sportsnet: 237,000
17. MLB, Tigers at Orioles, Friday, Sportsnet: 228,000
18. NHL, Senators at Canadiens, Saturday, TSN: 220,000
19. UFC, MacDonald vs. Saffiedine, Saturday, Sportsnet360: 212,000
20. NFL, Cardinals at Broncos, TSN, 175,000 (Fox audience not measured)
21. Soccer, Manchester City at Aston Villa, Saturday, Sportsnet: 150,000
THREE TO WATCH
Hockey's back in town: Pulses are racing all across Canada, and it's not solely the cause of the parliamentary debate on the Middle East. Wednesday marks the return of the NHL, which has an extra twist this year. This is the start of Rogers' 12-year reign as the provider of nationaly broadcasts and the cable-phone-internet-publishing-and-everything-else giant is promising many innovations. The first is an opening night featuring seven games, including all six Canadian teams. Games start at 7 p.m. ET (with Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa in action) on too many channels to list. Check your listings for details.
Pitch perfect: The boys of summer are providing some pretty good entertainment this fall, including a lot of surprises. The action continues Tuesday with the Dodgers and Cardinals (5 p.m. ET, Sportsnet) followed by the Nationals and Giants.
Battle of the QEW: It was only a couple of weeks ago that the CFL East was looking like a major train wreck. But things are starting to look at little more competitive and that should make the clash between traditional rivals Hamilton and Toronto a good one. And if Hamilton wins, the Ticats will be the only team east of Regina to reach the magical .500 mark. Friday, 7 p.m. ET, TSN.