Toronto FC's television audience: next to nil
There are few doubts that Toronto FC is a success at the box office. On the field, there are strides to be made but the team has at least become a contender for a playoff spot early in its infancy.
But as a TV property, it has a very long way to go. Ratings are abysmal, as witnessed by Saturday's game in Seattle that couldn't even draw 100,000 viewers to CBC. That's not far out of line with what TFC has drawn all season and throughout most of its brief existence.
It' s a bit of a mystery why the team hasn't fared better in the ratings. The games are interesting and the home crowd puts on a pretty good show. The road games aren't much to look at, especially when the other team's feed is used and broadcasters call things from a Toronto studio. But that's to be expected until ratings start to rise.
So why aren't more people watching? Where are all those soccer fanatics we keep hearing about?
My theory is that too many soccer fanatics have little interest in Major League Soccer because they find it inferior to the big European leagues. In addition, because there's no other MLS team in Canada there's no rivalry to feed off. People in Vancouver and Montreal have little incentive to watch a Toronto team in which they have no stake.
With expansion, that could change. But it's going to take a while and whether the MLS ever catches the eyes of the Euro crowd is doubtful.
Here are the overnight English-Canadian sports ratings for last weekend, as compiled by BBM Nielsen Media Research.
1. Football, Stampeders at Argos, Friday, TSN: 346,000
2. Football, Tiger-Cats at Eskimos, Saturday, TSN: 329,000
3. Baseball, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Sunday, Sportsnet: 281,000
4. Baseball, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Friday, Sportsnet: 262,000
5. Baseball, Blue Jays at Red Sox, Saturday, Sportsnet: 254,000
6. Auto racing, NASCAR Nationwide Montreal, Sunday, TSN: 223,000
7. Football, Bears at Broncos, Sunday, TSN: 147,000*
8. Auto racing, Belgian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 121,000
9. Track and field, Golden League, Saturday, CBC: 106,000
10. Soccer, Toronto FC at Seattle, Saturday, CBC: 85,000
* Viewers on NBC not calculated