The Great Canadian Ratings Report: World junior hockey scores again for TSN

Finland went wild of its junior team's victory over Russia at the world championship, but it didn't  translate well across the Atlantic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Finland went wild of its junior team's victory over Russia at the world championship, but it didn't translate well across the Atlantic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

While there's no denying that this year's world junior hockey championship was a television hit, TSN has to be pining over what might have been.

If only those Canadian juniors had made it past the semifinal ...

The good news for TSN is that ratings for Canada's games at the annual celebration of teenage hockey were up 16 per cent over the last tournament held in Europe (2014). They averaged 2.1 million viewers a game, boosted by the 2.9 million who watched the Boxing Day opener, a record for tournament games outside North America.

Ratings were down substantially from last year's event, but that was a given considering that one was held in Canada and all of the home team's games were in prime time. These were all afternoon and morning starts.

In addition, the final between Finland and Russia on Tuesday (1 p.m. ET) averaged 729,000 viewers on TSN (637,000) and French-language RDS (92,000.) More than 2.7 million people watched some or all of the game, a pretty impressive number considering it was pure non-Canadian content.

That doesn't compare too favourably with last year's final, which averaged 7.1 million viewers, but again, we're talking night and day -- literally.

The only sour note for TSN and RDS on this one is what might have been. If 2.9 million watched the opener, imagine how many would have tuned in for a gold medal final -- even on a weekday afternoon.

In addition to big TV numbers, TSN's website would have all but crashed.

Those sour notes should be sweetened pretty quickly with thoughts of next year's tournament, which will be back in Canada.

The juniors weren't the only interesting developments over the holidays:

Classic ratings: The NHL Winter Classic was a dud in the U.S.,  but gave Sportsnet some good news here in hockey country. The average audience of 1.3 million was 24 per cent higher than last year's game and was the most-watched television event of New Year's Day among Canadians aged 25-54.

Bowled over: Those U.S. bowl games sure get a lot of hype, but that didn't seem to impress Canadian football fans. The most-watched game was the Orange Bowl, which averaged 365,000 for TSN on New Year's Eve.  That's not a bad audience, but it was less than half the number who watched the top-rated Rose Bowl last year. It was also the only bowl game to top 300,000 viewers. The Vanier Cup, by the way, averaged 311,000. So there. Seeing that American ratings were down substantially for both FBS playoff games that day , the NCAA might want to rethink the schedule.

Following are the most-watched English-language sports broadcasts from the holiday weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:

1. World juniors, Canada vs. Finland, Saturday, TSN: 2,230,000

2. World juniors, Canada vs. Sweden, Thursday, TSN: 1,540,000

3. NHL, Blues-Leafs/Isles-Pens, Saturday, CBC: 1,470,000

4. NHL, Canadiens at Bruins, Friday, Sportsnet: 1,300,000 (NBC audience not measured)

5. NFL, Chargers-Broncos/Seahawks-Cards, Sunday, CTV: 983,000

6. NFL, Jets-Bills/Pats-Dolphins/Ravens-Bengals, Sunday, CTV: 842,000

7. NHL, Jets-Sharks/Flames-Avs, Saturday, Sportsnet: 818,000

8. NHL, Senators at Blackhawks, Sunday, Sportsnet: 433,000

9. NFL, Vikings at Packers, Sunday, TSN: 389,000 (NBC audience not measured)

10. NCAA, Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Oklahoma, Thursday, TSN: 365,000

11. NHL, Ducks at Canucks, Friday, Sportsnet Pacific: 318,000

12. NHL, Jets at Coyotes, Sunday, TSN regional: 255,000

13. World junior, Russia vs. Denmark, Saturday, TSN: 245,000

14. NCAA, Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Iowa, Friday, TSN: 235,000

15. World junior, Denmark vs. U.S., Thursday, TSN: 232,000

16. NBA, Hornets at Raptors, Friday, TSN: 226,000

17. NBA, Bulls at Raptors, Sunday, TSN: 211,000

18. NCAA, Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan State, Thursday, TSN: 194,000

19. World junior, U.S. vs. Czech Republic, Saturday, TSN: 172,000

20. Soccer, Tottenham at Everton, Sunday, TSN: 166,000

21. Soccer, Swansea at Manchester United, Saturday, Sportsnet: 150,000

22. NCAA, Liberty Bowl: Kansas State vs. Arkansas, Saturday, TSN: 143,000

23. NCAA, Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss, Friday, TSN: 140,000

24. MMA, UFC 195 preliminaries, Saturday, TSN: 133,000

25. Soccer, Chelsea at Crystal Palace, Sunday, TSN: 130,000


Back to reality: Now that the world junior hockey championship is over, tournament stars get back to reality. Fans impressed with the play of Mitch Marner and Matthew Tkachuk can catch them doing their day jobs as the Flint Firebirds take on the London Knights (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.)

Sweep dreams: With the Brier and Tournament of Hearts not far off, the best curlers in Canada are on display at the Pinty's All-Star Skins Game in Banff. Coverage starts with the women's semifinals (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, TSN.)

Wild, wild nights (and afternoons): Teams that barely scraped into the playoffs will be doing their best to make sure they're not road kill on the Super Bowl highway. Wild-card weekend starts with the Chiefs and Texans on Saturday (4:35 p.m. ET, CTV.)