Strong start, fading finish for NFL Week 1 TV ratings in Canada

Photo courtesy: NFL

The NFL kicked off with a bang, but ended Week 1 with a whimper on Canadian television.

The rematch of the thrilling AFC Divisional round matchup from last season’s playoffs, which was part of Kansas City’s Super Bowl title run, produced a record for TSN. It set the mark for the most-watched Thursday Night Football season opener attracting an average audience of 903,800 viewers to CTV and TSN, an increase of 15 percent over last year. 4.5 million unique Canadian viewers tuned in to watch some part of the Chiefs’ 34-20 victory against the Houston Texans.

However, the other primetime games saw substantial ratings declines. The Los Angeles Rams opened $5-billion SoFi Stadium against Dallas to an average Canadian audience of 621,800. It was a tight game the whole way through with LA earning a 20-17 win over the Cowboys. New England blew out Pittsburgh 33-3 in the same window last year to an average viewership of 955,600. That makes Sunday’s number a 35 percent drop year-over-year.

The annual Monday Night Football doubleheader for Week 1 took a nosedive on TV sets. Pittsburgh handling the New York Giants 26-16, including rookie Canadian Chase Claypool’s dazzling NFL debut, brought in 386,200 viewers, falling 44 percent. Claypool has a marketing deal with DAZN Canada, a direct competitor for live NFL games in our home and native land. The Saints edged Houston 30-28 in a thriller in New Orleans in the same slot one year ago with 698,800 viewers.

For the final contest of Week 1, Tennessee kicked a last-minute field goal to escape Denver with a 16-14 win. 376,700 viewers watched the game, compared to 556,770 who tuned into the Raiders and Broncos last season. That marked a 32 percent drop from one year to the next.

Despite the downturns, there was one other area of increase: Tom Brady’s debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a 4:25 p.m. ET kick-off and matched the six-time Super Bowl champion against Drew Brees and the NFC South rival Saints. Coast to coast in Canada, New Orleans’ 34-23 victory had an average audience of 894,700, recording a 30 percent jump.

For what it’s worth, the top five ratings for any TV show in the United States were NFL games, the Bucs and Saints ranked No. 1 with 25.8 million viewers.

Week 1 Canadian NFL TV ratings:

Houston at Kansas City: 903,800

1 p.m. ET games: 798,200
4 p.m. ET games: 894,700

Sunday Night Football
Dallas at Los Angeles Rams: 621,800

Monday Night Football
Pittsburgh at New York Giants: 386,200
Tennessee at Denver: 376,700

Total Week 1 average: 663,566

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