CFL ratings report: Redblacks (and Stamps) drag the whole week down

After a stellar start to the 2018 season, the CFL’s TV ratings took a minor hit in Week 5, largely due to the low numbers generated by one game.

Thursday’s match up between Calgary and Ottawa posted an audience of just 278,000, easily the lowest-rated game of the season and the poorest showing since a Week 13 game last September.

That contest – which drew a paltry 190,000 viewers on TSN – also featured the Redblacks who were in Montreal to face the Alouettes. In fact, when we looked at TV ratings for the 2017 season last week, one thing that stood out were the surprisingly low numbers for the Ottawa Redblacks whose 434,400 average audience was the second-lowest in the CFL (trailing only Montreal, whose numbers don’t include French-language RDS.)

That trend has continued into 2018: the Redblacks currently have the lowest average TV audience in the CFL with just 415,375 viewers (Montreal is next at 494,725.) And despite a tough week, the league’s overall numbers are up more than three per cent while Ottawa’s numbers are down almost 4.5 per cent.

Now, the game was a blowout – Calgary won 27-3 – so that was likely a contributing factor and, as we showed a couple of weeks ago, Thursday games typically perform worse than games on Fridays at Saturdays: even with a ginormous, Rider-fuelled number on a Thursday in Week 4, Saturday games are still tops this season.

Comparing numbers on a week-to-week basis is also a challenge: in 2017, there were five games on the slate while the addition of a third bye week this season means there were just three on the schedule in 2018. Average viewership for Week 5 was down almost 10 per cent year-over-year.

Week 5 ratings

Calgary at Ottawa: 278,000

Toronto at Edmonton: 517,500

Winnipeg at B.C.: 499,000

Week 5, 2018 (three games) vs 2017 (five games): -9.8 per cent
Year-to-date vs 2017: +3.3 per cent

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