Ratings for last weekend’s NFL playoff games jumped more than 22 per cent over 2017 – a stark contrast to the CFL’s post-season viewership struggles.
The NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams drew an average audience of 1.88 million on CTV while the AFC contest between New England and Kansas City posted a viewership of 2.38 million. Both games featured highly-anticipated matchups between the top seeds in each conference and both went to overtime.
Ratings for the CFL East and West Division championships last October were down a combined 30 per cent, including a drop of almost 50 per cent for the game between the Ottawa Redblacks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The GreyCup was also a disappointment. Viewership for the CFL’s championship game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Ottawa Redblacks was just 3.1 million on TSN – a decline of over 23 per cent from 2017. It was the lowest-rated game since 2001 (2.7 million) and the worst showing for TSN since they took over the broadcast rights 11 years ago.
The poor showing also meant that TSN saw a slight ratings decrease for 2018 – despite a regular season that saw a modest increase. Overall, ratings declined 0.3 per cent for the 81-game season, including playoffs.
NFL ratings were up five per cent in the U.S. this season while Canadian viewership had spiked 19 per cent through the first two months of the season.
The CFL is broadcast exclusively on TSN in Canada while the NFL is carried by Bell Media on both TSN and CTV, which is available to a larger audience.
Regardless, a greater percentage of Canadians are watching NFL football while the CFL’s audience is essentially flat.