CFL ratings report: A team by team look at the season so far

While we’ve been documenting the CFL’s encouraging TV ratings all season – viewership on TSN is up 5.4 per cent over this time last year – a deeper dive into the numbers shows mixed results in the nine individual markets.

And when combined with the attendance figures from earlier this week, there may be further cause for concern in some places where the league has traditionally been strong while there are more promising signs in Toronto.

Here’s a look at the TV ratings for the nine CFL teams compared to their 2017 numbers for the same number of games along with their attendance figures.

Team Average viewership Percentage change (2017) Attendance change (2017)
SSK 717,958 +14.2  -1.5
EDM 571,583 -5.4 -3.8
HAM 555,675 +3.2 -0.6
CAL 543,183 +3.6 -5.9
WIN 540,258 -7.24 -3.0
TOR 503,473 +10.39 +4.2
B.C. 500,964 -2.28 -4.3
MTL 477,317 +17.1 -11.8
OTT 449,750 +5.3 -3.5

The Riders continue to be the dominant team in the CFL when it comes to both attendance – they are first in the league in that category as well – and TV viewership. The fact that Chris Jones’ squad has been competitive out of the gate has clearly helped the TV numbers (and they didn’t need much assistance.)

Meanwhile, ratings are also encouraging in Hamilton, Calgary and Ottawa, where increased viewership helps to partly explain moderate decreases in attendance.

In Montreal, it’s clear that Johnny Manziel is having an impact on the ratings across the country – they are up 17 per cent – while local fans are less than enthused by the state of a team that has just three wins so far this season.

The numbers in Toronto are also encouraging: an increase of over 10 per cent in viewership to go along with a four per cent increase at the gate. The Argos clearly still have work to do – particularly in getting fans to BMO – but the TV numbers indicate there’s a solid base of Double Blue faithful out there, somewhere. Staying competitive down the stretch would also likely help cement some of those gains.

The declines in Edmonton are noteworthy but given their relative strength – second in attendance, second in TV viewership – there’s no need for concern quite yet. In Winnipeg, however, a seven per cent drop in TV ratings coupled with a three per cent decline in attendance would indicate some slippage in the Bombers’ status, perhaps due to renewed interest in the NHL’s Jets after a playoff run last spring. B.C. is also showing modest drops in both attendance and ratings, another signal that things could be better on the Left Coast.

Overall, however, ratings continue to be a strong point for the league so far this season, particularly given the challenges faced by most cable broadcasters. A competitive stretch drive involving multiple teams jockeying for playoff berths and position would certainly help.

Week 14 ratings

B.C. at Montreal: 459,700

Calgary at Hamilton: 496,900
Ottawa at Saskatchewan: 652,000

Week 14 (2018) vs. Week 13 (2017): +31 per cent
Year-to-date (53 games) vs 2017 (53 games): +5.4 per cent

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