Ratings for the Canadian men's curling final tumbled significantly compared to the championship game in the 2020 season.
Brendan Bottcher defeated Wild Card Two's Kevin Koe on Sunday night at Calgary's Markin MacPhail Centre for his first career Tim Hortons Brier title.
The final drew an average audience of 728,000 viewers, down 33 per cent from the 1.09 million who watched the year before, according to Numeris data provided by rightsholder TSN.
The drop follows a similar ratings decrease for last month's Canadian women's curling championship, the first of seven major events to be held in the spectator-free Canada Olympic Park venue.
Numbers for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts final between Team Canada's Kerri Einarson and Ontario's Rachel Homan were down 30 per cent from the 2020 title game. The Manitoba skip successfully defended her title in another close matchup.
The 2020-21 domestic curling tour calendar was quite limited due to COVID-19. Other sports have experienced similar ratings declines after pausing due to the pandemic.
Bottcher was also in last year's Brier final in Kingston, Ont., losing to Brad Gushue's team from Newfoundland and Labrador.
In addition to including a team from the East Coast, that final had a different timeslot as play began at 7 p.m. ET, 90 minutes earlier than this year's final.
After jumping out to a 4-1 lead after three ends, Gushue was in control of last year's 7-3 victory.
The all-Alberta Bottcher-Koe matchup was tighter, with Koe conceding in the 10th end of the 4-2 decision.
Overall, this year's 10-day competition was watched by 5.2 million Canadians, according to TSN. Live streaming rose by 63 per cent and there were two million video starts, more than triple last year's total.
There were also over seven million page views of Brier content, a jump of almost 50 per cent from 2020, the network said.
The Canadian mixed doubles championship is next on the calendar in the so-called curling bubble. The eight-day competition begins Thursday.
Bottcher will represent Canada at the April 2-11 world men's curling championship, which will be followed by the April 14-18 Champions Cup and the April 20-25 Players' Championship.
Einarson will wear Canada colours at the April 30-May 9 world women's curling championship.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press