Despite the largest West semifinal audience in three seasons, TSN ratings for the first weekend of the CFL playoffs were down almost six per cent compared to last season.
The Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West semi drew an average audience of 1,280,000, making it the most-watched game of the CFL season thus far. The Riders have been the league’s top draw by a significant margin in 2018 and the game was close all the way to the final whistle.
But the East semifinal between the B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats was a blowout early and ended with the Ticats winning 48-8, which goes some way to explain the disappointing audience of 697,800. That’s less than the Ticats Labour Day game against the Argos, which drew 744,000.
The combined audience of just over 1.9 million for both playoff matchups is down over 60,000 viewers from the 2017 semis when the Riders travelled to Ottawa to take on the Redblacks and Winnipeg hosted Edmonton. It is, however, a marginal increase from the 2016 games (up o.8 per cent.)
For the season, the CFL is still showing an increase of 3.7 per cent over 2017 but with the Riders out – they played in the East Final last season – the league’s hard-fought gains could be in jeopardy just three games from the finish line.
CFL East and West semifinal ratings
B.C. at Hamilton: 697,800
Winnipeg at Saskatchewan: 1,280,000
Semifinals (2018) vs. Semifinals (2017): -5.9 per cent
Year-to-date (83 games) vs 2017 (83 games): +3.7 per cent