Bring on the 110th Grey Cup playoffs: CFL TV ratings slump in final 2023 regular season week

Photo courtesy: Calgary Stampeders

The CFL saved the worst for last by posting the weakest television ratings in the final week of the 2023 regular season schedule.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes produced the best number in Week 21, a tuneup for the East Semi-Final, with 408,800 average viewers on TSN and an additional 169,300 on RDS, the network’s French-language affiliate. That total audience included almost 200,000 viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders posted a significantly smaller audience at 377,600, albeit with a 9:00 p.m. EDT start time. 120,200 people from the 25-54 age demo tuned in to watch quarterback Dru Brown throw for 278 yards and two touchdowns in a performance that helps his case to be a starter in the CFL next season.

The lowest-viewed game of the week came between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks as 268,200 tuned in, making it the fourth-lowest-rated English-language game this year. 82,200 from the coveted 25-54 age demographic watched the Argos reach 16 wins on the year, tying an all-time CFL record.

Going up against Hockey Night in Canada has not been a recipe for success when it comes to CFL television ratings. The Maple Leafs lost 3-2 in overtime to the Nashville Predators during the 7 p.m. eastern time window on HNIC, which drew 1,753,300 eyeballs, 645,100 in the 25-54 age demo. The 10 p.m. game featured the New York Rangers beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in overtime with 623,000 watching, 216,200 in the 25-54 category.

Former head coach Nick Nurse returning to Toronto for the first time after leaving in the offseason had 349,200 average viewers on Sportsnet One, 123,300 in the 25-54 age group. The 76ers topped the Raptors 114-107 with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey scoring 34 points each. That matchup tipped off at 7:41 p.m. ET to provide more competition for the Argos on TV.

Saturday night was packed with sports, World Series Game 2 between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers posted 309,700 viewers and 49,300 in the 25-54 age demographic.

Thursday Night Football on TSN and CTV2 brought in 750,900 and 325,600 in the 25-54 demo to catch the Buffalo Bills edge Tampa Bay as quarterback Josh Allen threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Sunday Night Football had 599,200 viewers, 291,100 in the 25-54 age demo, check out the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13 win over Chicago on TSN and CTV.

2023 Week 21 TV ratings:

Winnipeg at Calgary — 377,600

Hamilton at Montreal — TSN 408,800 and RDS 169,300
Toronto at Ottawa — 268,200

Total Week 21 average: 351,500 (French included: 408,000)

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