There's nothing like a little Canadian content mixed with a shot at making history to drive television ratings.
With David Hearn apparently poised to become the first native son to win the Canadian Open since 1954, an average of 500,000 viewers tuned in to Sunday's final round at Glen Abbey Golf Club. While Hearn didn't deliver, he stayed in contention long enough to push TV ratings 36 per cent higher than they were the previous year.
That pales in comparison with what the tournament drew during the early days of Tigermania -- 1.5 million watched the final round of Woods' victory in 2000 -- it's an indication that better days lie ahead for Canada's national open.
The Open likely will never see those Woodsian numbers again, partly because it was a once-in-a-generation rise of a superstar (pre-9-iron) and partly because the tournament's new position in the PGA firmament limits the quality of the field. Sanwiched between the British Open and the PGA Championship, the Canadian tournament will likely never see all of the top names in golf again.
But with the likes of pros such as Hearn, Graham DeLaet, Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor and Adam Svensson and amateurs Blair Hamilton and Austin Connelly on the rise, the prospects of a Canadian actually winning the Canadian Open are increasing. So are the prospects of Canadians finding themselves at the top of PGA leaderboards.
Once those golfers become households names outside their own households, the audiences will follow.
But familiar names aren't always necessary to drive ratings, as the Pan Am Games proved.
While the public wasn't happy with CBC's coverage -- or lack thereof -- they produced huge TV ratings for an event that usually isn't even on the radar. According to CBC, more than 22 million people -- almost two-thirds of the country -- watched at least some of the Games.
In addition to several million-plus audiences, the digital side of the Games generated more than 30 million page views and more than 3.2 million videos were watched online.
These Pan Ams also produced a new reality for Canada's broadcasters. When an if the Commonwealth Games or Pan Ams are ever held here again, Canadians will demand wall-to-wall coverage. A nightly wrap-up show will never suffice again.
Here are the most-watched English-language sports broadcasts from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. Pan American Games closing ceremonies, Sunday, CBC: 1,605,000
2. Pan American Games prime time, Saturday, CBC: 1,154,000
3. Pan American Games prime time, Friday, CBC: 1,024,000
4. MLB, Blue Jays at Mariners, Sunday, Sportsnet: 718,000
5. MLB, Blue Jays at Mariners, Saturday, Sportsnet: 630,000
6. CFL, Stampeders at Redblacks, Friday, TSN: 589,000
7. Pan Am Games evening, Friday, CBC: 589,000
8. CFL, Argonauts at Lions, Friday, TSN: 583,000
9. CFL, Ticats at Roughriders, Sunday, TSN: 549,000
10. Pan Am Games afternoon, Friday, CBC: 548,000
11. Pan Am Games afternoon, Saturday, CBC: 522,000
12. CFL, Blue Bombers at Eskimos, Saturday, TSN: 509,000
13. MLB, Blue Jays at Mariners, Friday, Sportsnet: 504,000
14. PGA, Canadian Open final round, Sunday, Global: 500,000
15. Pan Am Games afternoon, Sunday, CBC: 488,000
16. Auto racing, NASCAR Jeff Kyle 400, Sunday, TSN: 279,000
17. Pan Am Games, men's basketball, U.S. vs. Canada, Friday, Sportsnet: 259,000
18. Auto racing, F1 Hungarian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 255,000
19. PGA, Canadian Open third round, Saturday, Global: 221,000
20. Auto racing, F1 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, Saturday, TSN: 175,000
21. Soccer, Gold Cup final, Mexico vs. Jamaica, Sunday, Sportsnet: 153,000
22. Pan Am Games, men's soccer final, Uruguay vs. Mexico, Sunday, Sportsnet: 145,000
23. MMA, UFC preliminaries, Saturday, TSN: 134,000
24. Cycling, Tour de France, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 133,000
25. Pan Am Games, women's soccer, Canada vs. Mexico, Saturday, Sportsnet One: 131,000
THREE TO WATCH
At long last, Tulowitzki: Nobody saw this deal coming, but when the Toronto Blue Jays traded for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki this week they got themselves a perennial all-star and a guy they were supposed to have drafted 10 years ago had the departed J.P. Ricciardi not grabbed the ill-fated Ricky Romero instead. Tulowitzki is expected to make his Blue Jays debut Wednesday against Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.) The whereabouts of Romero and Ricciardi are unknown.
Starry night: The best that Major League Soccer has to offer -- or at least the winners of fan voting -- will take on English league legends Tottenham Hotspur in the annual all-star game Wednesday (8 p.m., ET, TSN.) Toronto FC's Michael Bradley is expected to be in the starting lineup.
Trading places: As Canada's sports networks have learned, trade deadline shows can be a bit risky, especially when all the deals are made before deadline day. But Sportsnet will try to buck the odds on the Major League Baseball deadline day with a one-hour special (Friday, 4 p.m., ET.) Gregg Zaun and Jamie Campbell will bring you all the deals, or scramble to fill air time depending on how things go.