Vancouver Day 11: This just in! Hockey drives ratings to new heights
While our national pride, our very essence apparently rides on the fortunes of Canada's men's hockey team, there's a lot more at stake for the CTV-Rogers Olympic consortium.
If Canada can't get past Russia later this week, the consortium can say goodbye to a potential ratings bonanza. Sunday's game against the United States, a loss that raised blood pressure across the land, was the most-watched sports program in Canadian history.
According to BBM Canada overnight ratings, the game was seen by an average of 10.6 million, more than the 10.3 million who watched the gold medal final on CBC at Salt Lake City in 2002. Sunday's audience may be dwarfed by the number tuning in for Wednesday's quarterfinal against Russia, assuming Canada gets past Germany on Tuesday.
Sunday's average was 2.4 million more than what MSNBC averaged in the U.S. NBC took some heat from the U.S. press for not airing hockey on its main channel. Considering how good the game it was, they're right.
Sunday's game was watched in part by 21.5 million people, or about two in three Canadians. That helped boost Sunday's prime-time average to 6.8 million, the largest of the Games to date.
THE GOOD: The Calgary Olympics had its battle of Brians with Orser and Boitano. Vancouver has Williams and Williams. CTV brought NBC news anchor Brian Williams into its studios to meet his Canadian namesake for a fun bit ot TV. The news guy showed a surprisingly good sense of humour, deadpanning that the CTV fake fireplace looked a lot like the fake fireplace in Bob Costas' studio. .... On a more serious bent, the Canadian Brian got his big moment Monday evening, first grilling Own The Podium CEO Roger Jackson on Canada's performance in Vancouver, then talking with Wayne Gretzky about Canada's hockey fortunes. The best moment came when Williams asked Jackson if the organization's name was a mistake. ``There's an arrogance there that you know is being ridiculed in North America, in particular in the States, and Europe," he asked. Jackson called it more bold than arrogant. It was a tough but fair interview. ... Two great TV sports: ski cross and cross-country skiing. The former is obvious, sort of a demolitiion derby on snow with no judging to confuse matters. The latter provides great images with surprisingly close races. Again, no judges. .... Great coverage by CTV on Sunday's Canada-U.S. hockey game. Great commentary, too. Pierre McGuire, after Martin Brodeur's gaffe that led to the second American goal: ``Play within character. That's out of character for Martin Brodeur." ... Studio analyst Bob McKenzie, assessing the play of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer: ``The elder statesmen have not been getting the job done." ... Gord Miller, after cameras showed Sidney Crosby lodged in the American net: ``Sidney Crosby, the only thing Canada can put in the net tonight.: ... The super slo-mo feature has worked well in a lot of sports and didn't disappoint anyone in hockey. It showed how the puck ricocheted in off Jamie Langenbrunner's skate on the fourth U.S. goal. ... Why Canadians love curling on TV: Monday's coverage included an interview with one of the Canadian curler's fiance. ... NBC reporter Alan Abrahamson on Sunday's hockey game: ``Today is National Group Therapy Day in Canada."
THE BAD: Is it possible that there's a CTV show that hasn't been plugged during the Olympics? If there is, don't fret because there are still six days left. ... Nobody takes the CTV morning show seriously -- I hope -- but of all the fluff being forced on us, nothing is fluffier than something called The After Show Freeze Frame. In this case, less exposure might be better. ... So, it's about 10C in Vancouver, sun shining, tulips ready to bloom. Why is there a fireplace burning 22 hours a day in the CTV studio? Why not switch from the Fireplace Channel to the Flower Channel? ... All those athlete profiles are wonderful, but they do raise the question: Is there not one Olympian who was born in a mansion, drives a Ferrari and spent his youth playing polo?