TSN television ratings for 2021 CFL season opener up 31 percent from two years ago

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The CFL season kicked off with a bang in Winnipeg and Saskatchewan.

The 107th Grey Cup rematch was a ratings boon for TSN as Hamilton visiting IG Field was highly anticipated around the country. It was the first CFL game played in over a year-and-a-half since the Blue Bombers upset the Tiger-Cats 33-12 in the 2019 CFL championship.

Even though the three-down league’s return was up against the Tokyo Olympics and Blue Jays in primetime, the football game produced a 31 percent year-over-year increase for the CFL lid-lifter. There was stiff entertainment competition and the CFL held its own.

1,220,000 Canadians watched the red and white compete in a number of events on the other side of the world at the Olympic Games, while 553,800 saw MLB all-star shortstop Bo Bitchette hit a three-run home run to fly the Jays to a 3-0 win over Cleveland. It was a busy night for sports viewers across the country.

The Roughriders drew the largest average audience of the week at 764,600, which was a 46 percent increase compared to the Green and White’s opener the last time the CFL played football. Being away from the field made the hearts grow fonder for Rider Nation and it showed with the TV number.

Much like the Riders’ victory over B.C., the league started strong on TV, but faded fast to finish. The football doubleheader on Saturday was going against the Blue Jays’ doubleheader. The first of two games against the American League East-leading Red Sox brought in 765,100, but the second one ratcheted up — 905,800 tuned in to witness Boston beating the Jays 2-1.

Directly competing with the Blue Jays was the team who makes their home down the street from Rogers Centre at BMO Field, the Argonauts. Toronto travelled to Calgary and pulled together to upset Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders. Despite the outcome being undecided until the final minute, the Boatmen and Horses had the lowest TV rating to begin the schedule.

Everyone must have assumed the Elks were going to blowout the Redblacks, but Ottawa completed a stunner thanks to veteran defensive back Abdul Kanneh.

Week 1 TV ratings:

Hamilton at Winnipeg: 683,100

B.C. at Saskatchewan: 764,600

Toronto at Calgary: 318,400
Ottawa at Edmonton: 341,700

Total Week 1 average: 526,950

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