Grey Cup TV ratings down 12%, CFL touts increase in online engagement

While Sunday’s Grey Cup game may have been an instant classic, it did not resonate with television audiences.

According to the CFL and TSN, the 2016 CFL championship game drew an average of just 3.6 million viewers on TSN, down more than 12 per cent from the 4.1 million who watched on English TV last year.

That will come as a disappointment to the league, who announced during last Friday’s state of the league address by commissioner Jeffrey Orridge that ratings were up by 3.5 per cent this season.

The negative publicity around the Grey Cup in Toronto – which featured slashed ticket prices, corporate giveaways and a seats included in a Pizza Pizza promotion – likely contributed to the drop. The game was also expected to be a coronation of the heavily favoured Calgary Stampeders, who ultimately lost 39-33 to the Ottawa Redblacks in overtime: viewership peaked at 5.7 million in the fourth quarter as the Stamps mounted a comeback and forced overtime.

With the drop in traditional TV viewership, TSN and the CFL chose to emphasize a three per cent increase in reach – the total number of people who tuned in to the broadcast – and gains in social media engagements and streaming viewership.