Hockey interest takes its usual third-round dive
The two-month battle to determine who gets to abuse the Stanley Cup in small towns around the world is indeed a strange creature. For one, it's the only playoff that features players who look like they're either bearded lumberjacks or car-crash victims. It also has to be the only pro sports playoff that sees the public lose interest the more important the games become.
The first weekend of CBC's third-round coverage produced audiences that didn't even match the average for a regular-season Saturday night. In fact, barring a huge surge in interest, the third round won't come close to the second-round average of 1,366,000.
This is, by the way, nothing unusual. It happened last year, too. Basically, as long as there's no Canadian team involved, Canadian ratings will decrease until the final.
But there is hope for solid ratings in the next round. The thought of the kind of hockey that could be produced in a Detroit-Pittsburgh series should have hockey fans salivating, or at least breathing heavily.
It wasn't much of a weekend for the Memorial Cup final, with ratings off 20 per cent from last season. But last year, the game didn't go head-to-head against a Stanley Cup playoff match.
For those who see some sort of bias against the NBA in this corner, the weekend ratings should silence them. Two conference final games barely broke the 100,000 mark on TSN. Hey, at least the NBA is doing better than Toronto FC.
The most incredible rating of the weekend: 180,000 tuning in to TSN for the NASCAR pre-race gabfest. Of course, they didn't know the race was going to be postponed.
Here are the weekend ratings according to BBM Nielsen Media Research overnight calculations:
1. Hockey, Red Wings at Blackhawks, Friday, CBC: 1,111,000
2. Hockey, Penguins at Hurricanes, Saturday, CBC: 1,056,000
3. Hockey, Red Wings at Blackhawks, Sunday, CBC: 591,000*
4. Auto racing, Indianapolis 500, Sunday, TSN: 252,000*
5. Hockey, Memorial Cup final, Sunday, Sportsnet: 234,000
6. Auto racing, NASCAR Coke 600, Sunday, TSN: 180,000*
7. Baseball, Blue Jays at Braves, Saturday, Sportsnet: 168,000*
8. Auto racing, F1 Monaco Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 158,000
9. Hockey, Memorial Cup: Windsor vs. Drummondville, Sportsnet: 150,000
10. Basketball, Lakers at Nuggets, Saturday, TSN: 125,000
11. Basketball, Magic at Cavaliers, Friday, TSN: 122,000
12. Soccer, New England at Toronto, Saturday, CBC: 76,000
* Canadian viewers on U.S. channel not calculated