CFL TV ratings: Bombers, Stamps semi-final showdown outdraws MLS Cup

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Canadian Football League scored a win over Major League Soccer.

Winnipeg and Calgary produced the first one million-plus television rating of the 2019 season in Sunday’s West Semi-Final. It was a highly anticipated dual that drew more eye balls in Canada than the MLS Cup played at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-1 to win the rubber finals rubber match between the two clubs.

1.5 million tuned in for the 2016 match and 1.3 million during TFC’s first league championship in 2017. TFC plays in our country’s largest market, but the average audience dropped to 747,600 for the third MLS Cup in Toronto franchise history.

The CFL has experienced a similar downward trend for their Division Semi-Finals, posting over one million in 2017, followed by 988,900 in 2018 and 863,850. That’s a loss creeping towards 200,000 viewers during a three-year sample size. Although, it’s not the declining same rate as MLS soccer.

Cord-cutters are a large reason why TV numbers are waning in all sorts of genres. There are more people accessing CFL games via TSN’s streaming service and various other unmeasured streams. Overall when compared to MLS, the CFL has to be happy the ratings are falling less steeply and the Saskatchewan Roughriders were not even playing.

For those curious there were a number of other sports for fanatics to take in on Sunday. The Minnesota Vikings took on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football checking in at 725,300, the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Chicago Blackhawks for Rogers Hometown Hockey 681,000, and the Toronto Raptors at the Los Angeles Lakers 452,000.

French language viewers were engaged in each division semi-final, especially the East. Obviously, the Alouettes are based in the biggest city in Quebec and should be counted in the overall rating to make it more comparable to other league counterparts. 405,000 watched Montreal lose to Edmonton on RDS — the largest for the network in a while.

Semi-Final Sunday TV ratings 2019:

Edmonton at Montreal — 626,900 (RDS 405,000)
Winnipeg at Calgary — 1,100,800 (RDS 75,000)

Average: 863,850


B.C. at Hamilton — 697,800
Winnipeg at Saskatchewan — 1,280,000

Average: 988,900


Saskatchewan at Ottawa — 975,000
Edmonton at Winnipeg — 1,128,000

Average: 1,051,500

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.