CFL TV ratings drop mirrors industry-wide trend

The CFL and their broadcast partners at TSN aren’t the only ones dealing with a decline in viewership.

The fall TV season is now underway and the early returns aren’t great. In English Canada, based on the first three weeks of the season, the total available TV audience among broadcasters CBC, CTV, City and Global is down eight per cent year-to-year. Among viewers aged 25 to 54, a demographic advertisers covet the most, the drop is 12 per cent in all day parts, according to Numeris, which measures TV viewership in Canada.

This mirrors similar declines to start this season among American broadcasters. Even NFL viewership has been thrown for a nine per cent loss year-to-year in the United States.

In the U.S., this is the fifth straight yearly decline. Viewers have migrated by the millions to less expensive streaming services such as Netflix. They are, in turn, “cord cutting” the old link to cable and satellite providers. According to one recent report, as much as 22 per cent of the U.S. population is now “cordless.”

The unusually warm weather in parts of Canada has also likely contributed to the drop. Some viewers are simply enjoying the outdoors while they can.

The one exception, at least so far: hockey.

Sportsnet released numbers this week touting a 13 per cent increase in “average minute audience” over the opening Saturday last Saturday. The resurgence of the Toronto Maple Leafs and mostly competitive teams in Canadian markets could certainly help the numbers.

Meanwhile, it was another so-so week for the CFL, which averaged just over 500,000 viewers for the four the games on TSN. The top game of the week was Friday’s upset win by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats over the Bombers in Winnipeg, which posted an average audience of 608,000. On the season, TSN’s numbers are down 14 per cent from last year’s average of 592,000 – they’ll need some big numbers down the stretch to close the gap.

Week 16 TSN ratings

Friday
Hamilton at Winnipeg: 608,000

Saturday (early)
Saskatchewan at Toronto: 560,000

Saturday (late)
Ottawa at B.C.: 434,000

Monday
Edmonton at Montreal: 404,000

– with files from CP

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