Three years ago when Rogers shocked the hockey and Canadian broadcasting worlds by securing NHL rights for the next 12 years, many saw dark days ahead for the communications giant's rivals.
The reason, of course, was hockey. Its massive ratings power would soon push Rogers to the top of the sports heap in Canada, almost everyone who didn't work for Bell Media believed. (Actually, Bell believed it too, but didn't want to admit it.)
Well, ratings have been a tad underwhelming, but Rogers still finds itself No. 1 in the Canadian sports business. The reason for that is a baseball team that few gave much thought to way back in 2013.
The resurrection of a seemingly moribund franchise has created a virtual bulletproof vest for Rogers, protecting it from those disappointing NHL numbers.
Led by the Jays, and with a little help from the also resurrected World Cup of Hockey, Rogers enjoyed the best September in its 19-year history. Rogers says its September audience share of 8.5 was more than double the next-highest competitor (TSN).
The Jays were a big part of that month, finishing the season averaging 1.88 million viewers per game in its season finale in Boston. The Jays averaged 1.01 million viewers per game, 12 per cent higher than last year and the biggest number in Sportsnet's history.
Overall, 78 Jays games topped the million mark this season, 21 more than last year.
The World Cup, despite questions about its appeal, averaged 1.13 million viewers per game.
Pushed by the Jays and hockey, Rogers saw big increases in its audiences for Sportsnet Central (17 per cent) and Tim and Sid (27 per cent.) There were similar double-digit increases for Sportsnet's website and other digital offerings.
But the Jays and World Cup didn't just draw viewers to Sportsnet, they took them away from the opposition. NFL ratings are down from last September and the CFL, which started the season well, has seen its audiences take a hit during the Jays playoff run.
Last weekend's CFL games averaged 480,000 (the Toronto-Montreal game was also watched by 172,000 on French-language RDS.) That's a respectable number, but well below the numbers the league was enjoying earlier this season.
Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. MLB, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Saturday, Sportsnet: 2,080,000
2. MLB, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Sunday, Sportsnet: 2,000,000
3. MLB, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,560,000
4. NFL, early games, Sunday, CTV: 696,000
5. CFL, Eskimos at Blue Bombers, Friday, TSN: 550,000
6. NFL, Cowboys-49ers/Rams-Cards, Sunday, CTV: 526,000
7. CFL, Redblacks at Lions, Saturday, TSN: 498,000
8. CFL, Stampeders at Tiger-Cats, Saturday, TSN: 443,000
9. NFL, Steelers at Chiefs, Sunday, TSN: 412,000 (NBC audience not measured)
10. NHL, Canadiens at Maple Leafs, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 401,000
11. NFL, Jaguars vs. Colts, Sunday, TSN: 373,000
12. NHL, Kings vs Oilers, Sunday, Sportsnet: 264,000
13. CFL, Argonauts at Alouettes, Sunday, TSN: 257,000
14. NHL, Penguins at Blues, Saturday, Sportsnet: 230,000
15. NHL, Maple Leafs at Sabres, Friday, Sportsnet 360: 183,000
16. Golf, Ryder Cup final round, Sunday, TSN: 182,000 (NBC audience not measured)
17. NBA, Raptors vs. Warriors, Saturday, TSN: 166,000
18. Auto racing, NASCAR Sprint Cup 400, Sunday, TSN: 164,000
19. Golf, Ryder Cup second round, Saturday, TSN: 153,000 (NBC audience not measured)
20. Golf, Ryder Cup first round, Friday, TSN: 151,000
21. Soccer, Manchester City at Tottenham, Sunday, Sportsnet: 143,000
22. Soccer, Chelsea at Hull, Saturday, Sportsnet: 129,000
23. Auto racing, F1 Malaysian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 108,000
24. NHL, Canucks at Flames, Friday, Sportsnet One: 106,000
25. UFC, Uneker vs. Dodson, Saturday, TSN: 100,000
THREE TO WATCH
Euro flash: The top European teams continue their quest to qualify for the next World Cup. Italy takes on Spain Thursday (2:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One.)
The boys of fall: No matter what happens to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, there will be significant amounts of meaningful baseball to follow as MLB's divisional series open Thursday with games at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet.)
Future kicks: The future of Canadian women's soccer is on display at the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup, which sees Canada taking on Venezuela (Friday, 11:50 a.m. ET, TSN1 and TSN4.)