The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Hockey trending up

·Chris Zelkovich
Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid square off during the third period at the Air Canada Centre on November 1, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid square off during the third period at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 1, 2016 in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Statistics gathered over long periods of time really tell the whole story, whether it’s political leanings, climate change, sports ratings or the volume of Donald Trump’s lies.

But sometimes a snapshot can bring things more into focus.

Case in point is the first weekend of November, which shows some interesting trends in the past year.

What’s up? What’s down? What’s going sideways?

In the former category, you have the NHL. Based on early returns, things are looking up — though it would be hard for them to keep going down much further.

Last November at this time, the early Hockey Night In Canada game averaged 1.88 million viewers. This year, it’s 2.2 million.

While Hockey Night In Canada has been showing improved ratings this season, thanks in part to better performances by Canadian teams, there may be a simple explanation for that jump. This year’s Saturday night offerings included four Canadian teams; last year’s, only two.

The late game was basically equal with last year’s counterpart, which may or may not say anything.

Then comes the NFL, which in the U.S., anyway, is experiencing a major ratings crisis.

Last Sunday’s late afternoon games on CTV averaged 848,000. The 2015 counterpart averaged 834,000, so basically a wash.

The early games last weekend averaged 670,000, down 61,000 from 2015. Again, basically a wash.

And that appears to be the trend this year in Canada. While American NFL ratings are dropping like a stone, they’re pretty much stable up here.

The reasons are probably as mysterious here as they are there.

The final games of the CFL season averaged 487,000 viewers last weekend. In 2015, the final weekend average was 469,000. Again, not a huge difference and basically on par with the 5 per cent ratings increase the league has experienced this year.

The Toronto Raptors are basically on par with what they did last year at this time.

The conclusion? With the exception of hockey, it’s pretty much business as usual.

Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television from the past weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:

  1. NHL, Canucks-Leafs/Sabres-Sens/Oilers-Isles/Flyers-Habs, Saturday, CBC-Sportsnet-City: 2,200,000

  2. NFL, Colts-Packers/Saints-Niners, Sunday, CTV: 848,000

  3. NHL, Flames at Kings, Saturday, CBC-Sportsnet: 678,000

  4. NFL, Steelers-Ravens/Eagles-Giants/Lions-Vikes, Sunday, CTV: 670,000

  5. CFL, Roughriders at Lions, Saturday, TSN: 582,000

  6. NHL, Hockey Central, Saturday, CBC-Sportsnet-City: 503,000

  7. CFL, Argonauts at Eskimos, Saturday, TSN: 491,000

  8. NHL, Jets at Rangers, Sunday, Sportsnet-360: 440,000

  9. CFL, Blue Bombers at Redblacks, Saturday, TSN: 387,000

  10. CFL, Alouettes at Tiger-Cats, Saturday, TSN: 364,000

  11. NFL, Broncos at Raiders, Sunday, TSN: 316,000 (NBC audience not measured)

  12. NBA, Kings at Raptors, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 244,000

  13. MLS, TFC at NYC, Sunday, TSN: 221,000

  14. NHL, Flames at Ducks, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 215,000

  15. NHL, Oilers at Red Wings, Sunday, Sportsnet West: 212,000

  16. MLS, Montreal at NY Red Bulls, Sunday, TSN: 181,000

  17. Speed skating, Short-track World Cup, Saturday, CBC: 179,000

  18. Figure skating, Rostelecom Cup, Saturday, CBC: 164,000

  19. Figure skating, Rostelecom Cup, Sunday, CBC: 155,000

  20. Soccer, Premier League games, Saturday, TSN: 118,000

  21. Soccer, Watford at Liverpool, Saturday, TSN: 117,000

  22. NHL, Jets at Red Wings, Friday, TSN Regional: 106,000

  23. Soccer, Tottenham at Arsenal, Sunday, TSN: 105,000

  24. Auto racing, NASCAR AAA Texas 500, Sunday, TSNL 105,000

THREE TO WATCH

Hurrying hard: The top broom-pushers in the world will be in Cranbrook, B.C., this week for the Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge. Coverage through the weekend finishes with Sunday’s finals for the women and men (12 noon and 3:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet).

Road to the Grey Cup: The combatants in next week’s CFL division finals will be determined Sunday. The East semifinal sees the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Edmonton Eskimos, who admittedly are east of B.C. (1 p.m. ET, TSN). The West showdown sees the B.C. Lions hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who not long ago were in the East (4:30 p.m. ET, TSN).

Cold war revisited: The annual Russia-Canada junior hockey challenge continues this week. The Russians and OHL stars have a rematch after Thursday’s 4-3 Russian win. (Monday, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet).

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