CFL ratings report: Live mic games falling on deaf ears

It would appear that the live mic games have lost some of their lustre.

While contests with enhanced audio posted a ten per cent bump during a short four-game trial in 2016 – there were none last season – an expanded slate hasn’t been able to reproduce the same results. With 13 of the 18 scheduled live mic games having already been played, the average TSN audience for those games is actually slightly lower (540,600) than the overall average for the year (543,300.)

The simplest explanation: the four-game trial was a novelty, something that gave fans a perspective they hadn’t otherwise experienced. With live mics featured virtually on every week this season, it’s become just another game.

Of course, how the mics are utilized doesn’t help. While there has been the occasional insightful moment, TSN has been careful to hit the mute button any time a coach or quarterback might be saying anything akin to interesting. As a result, what viewers mostly hear is virtually indecipherable play calls and cadences at the line of scrimmage: it becomes repetitive awfully quick.

Putting the mics on some of the league’s more colourful and talkative personalities would likely enhance the experience but that would come with some pretty clear risks for players, TSN and the CFL: a misogynist, homophobic or just plain cruel comment could do significant damage to reputations all around. Would such an approach be entertaining and realistic? Yes. Family-friendly? Expletive, no.

It will be interesting to see if the experiment continues next season. It costs TSN some extra cash and most players and coaches aren’t particularly fond of it: players are afraid of saying something stupid, coaches because they are generally a paranoid group disinclined to share any more information than they absolutely have to.

If the TV numbers don’t justify it…

That said, it was another good week for the CFL with viewership up a remarkable 19 per cent over the same week in 2017. Overall ratings are now up more than six per cent on the season and a tight race in the West Division bodes well for a strong finish, and a pair of late Toronto-Montreal match ups could benefit from the Manziel factor that has spiked the Alouettes’ numbers so far.

Week 15 ratings

Montreal at Winnipeg: 503,500

Edmonton at Ottawa: 448,000
Saskatchewan at Toronto: 767,000
Hamilton at B.C.: 590,800

Week 15 (2018) vs. Week 14 (2017): +19.2 per cent
Year-to-date (57 games) vs 2017 (57 games): +6.3 per cent

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