TSN chose to cut its 2023 Canadian Football League preseason coverage in half, dropping from four to two television broadcasts. But even that small sample size shows viewers were jonesing for CFL ball.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders 28-16 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers drew more eyeballs on TV than many regular season games did last year — one tilt in Week 21 last year had less than 200,000 viewers. Clearly, Rider Nation wanted to see Trevor Harris play in green and white for the first time, despite the game not counting in the standings.
Harris went four-of-four passing for 72 yards with one touchdown strike to Derel Walker in his only exhibition drive. The performance helped the Riders go 2-0 in the preseason for the first time since 2007. Excitement surrounding the new-look Saskatchewan squad led to a rating over 360,000 on TSN.
The other tune-up contest broadcast nationally by TSN was the Alouettes visiting the Redblacks on May 26. Cody Fajardo did not play in the game but it still attracted more than 275,000 viewers on TSN and RDS combined. Fajardo put on Als colours for the first time in Montreal’s last preseason tilt, which was aired exclusively on RDS, TSN’s French-language affiliate, and produced a respectable viewing audience.
Every other preseason game was streamed by the league on its CFL+ platform as radio calls were synced with the moving pictures for most of the matchups. The product was solid but it was not up to the standard of a regular TSN broadcast.
CFL preseason TV ratings 2023:
Montreal vs. Ottawa — 275,900 (TSN and RDS combined)
Hamilton vs. Montreal — 140,400 (RDS)
Saskatchewan vs. Winnipeg — 361,700 (TSN)