CFL ratings report: Introducing ‘The Johnny Effect’

Back in February, amid speculation that Johnny Manziel and his representatives were asking for the moon and the stars in contract negotiations with the Ticats, the quarterback fired off this Tweet.

“Has there ever been a rookie that will sell more money in jersey sales and season tickets than his entire 2 year contract would be worth? Ok good talk…”

While the Ticats certainly sold some No. 2 jerseys – they ultimately agreed to provide a $100 credit for those who ponied up – there’s not much evidence that Manziel had much by the way of impact on the team’s attendance. And while it’s not surprising that fans didn’t show up in droves to see a backup quarterback who was unlikely to see the field – Montreal didn’t get much by the way of a boost last week, either – it will be interesting to see if that changes now that he’s the starter.

But Manziel’s biggest impact is likely to be in the one area he didn’t mention: TV ratings.

His first game with Alouettes, last Thursday’s match up with the Edmonton Eskimos, posted an average audience of 516,300 on TSN. While that’s not a huge number – slightly above the CFL’s season average of 510,300  – it’s also the second-highest English language number for the Alouettes and the second-most watched game for the Eskimos this season. All that for the chance of seeing Manziel take the field (though he ultimately didn’t.)

The Alouettes are clearly hoping to sell tickets off Manziel’s arrival – they sent out an email marketing blast this week that included the line “you cannot miss this!” – and the CFL and TSN will no doubt take whatever bump Manziel can deliver in the ratings.

The game is one of the 17 regular season contests on the ESPN2 schedule and it will be interesting to see if the American rights holder adds more of Manziel’s games to the schedule, which goes on hiatus in mid-August once the NFL pre-season gets rolling before returning for the playoffs.

The CFL could certainly use the help. Week 7 ratings were down more than 5.5 per cent from a year ago, largely due to the 330,800 number posted by the Ottawa-Hamilton game which was the second-lowest rated game of the season. The Redblacks viewership has been the worst in the CFL by far this season, with an average audience of just 415,400 (Calgary is next at 487,500.)

Maybe the Alouettes can trade Johnny… nah.

Week 7 ratings

Edmonton at Montreal: 516,300

Toronto at Winnipeg: 565,000

Ottawa at Hamilton: 330,800

Calgary at Saskatchewan: 616,300

Week 7, 2018 vs 2017: -5.6 per cent
Year-to-date vs 2017: +0.8 per cent

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