The Toronto Raptors run to an NBA championship delivered a blow to the opening week of CFL television ratings.
Canada was captivated by the Raps, which led to record-breaking ratings. Game 6 of the NBA Finals when Toronto closed out the series drew an average Canadian audience of 7.7 million viewers on TSN.
That NBA title-clinching game happened on the same night as the CFL’s season-opener. The league smartly moved kick-off between Saskatchewan and Hamilton up 30 minutes to 7 p.m., minimizing overlap with the Raptors game which tipped soon after 9 p.m.
Last year the Riders recorded the largest TV audience throughout the regular season with a per game average of 704,728, over 140,000 more than the next closest team. However, Saskatchewan’s loss in the Steel City wasn’t the highest rated contest in Week 1. That designation was earned by the Bombers and Lions. The much-anticipated west coast tilt at B.C. Place nearly reached 700,000, an impressive number for a late Saturday night time slot.
The average english language audience for the four Week 1 games was 523,400, down 10.5 per cent from 585,200 in 2018. That figure was nearly on par with the opening slate of games in 2017 (523,750). If the Riders audience had hit their average from a year ago — 700,000 for easy math — the overall number of 567,875 would have made for a much smaller decrease.
With the Raptors’ season over and the Toronto Blue Jays fielding one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, the CFL and TSN have a chance to capitalize on the TV audience through the summer months.
Week 1 TV ratings:
Saskatchewan at Hamilton: 522,100
Montreal at Edmonton: 395,600
(French viewership on RDS: 140,000)
Ottawa at Calgary: 490,100
Winnipeg at B.C.: 685,800
Total Week 1 average: 523,400