Where are all the hoops fans?
On perusing the list of most-watched weekend sports events, the first thing you notice is that the usual suspects -- hockey and curling -- dominate the proceedings. The next thing that jumps out is that there are only two basketball games in the top 20 even though there's an NBA playoff contender here, the much-hyped NCAA tournament and the entertaining but mostly ignored CIS men's tournament.
Friday's Raptors-Blazers game on TSN averaged 187,000 viewers, not a great audience by anyone's definition. The NCAA? No March Madness on Canadian television, that's for sure.
The most-watched NCAA game on The Score and Sun TV (with the latter simulcasting CBS in the GTA) averaged 187,000 Saturday night when Kansas and Northern Iowa played. The Score reports that 62 per cent of all those watching the tournament did so on the Canadian channel, meaning that the most-watched game drew less than 250,000 viewers in Canada.
The positive here is the fact that The Score's audiences are up 28 per cent over last year, though it should be noted that most ratings are up by about 20 per cent thanks to a new ratings system.
As for the CIS, as good a tournament as it is, Sunday's final attracted an average of 35,000 on TSN2 -- a 40 per cent increase over what The Score drew last year.
Here are the top-rated weekend sports shows on English-language television, according to BBM Canada overnight ratings:
1. NHL, Canadiens at Leafs, Saturday, CBC: 2,116,000
2. NHL, Red Wings at Canucks, Saturday, CBC: 1,273,000
3. Curling, Women's world championship, Saturday, TSN: 884,000
4. Curling, Women's world championship, Sunday afternoon, TSN: 773,000
5. Curling, Women's world championship, Sunday evening, TSN: 753,000
6. NHL, Hockey Night In Canada pre-game, Saturday, CBC: 561,000
7. NHL, Red Wings at Oilers, Friday, TSN: 541,000
8. PGA, Traditions Championship final round, Sunday, Global: 369,000
9. UFC, Vera vs. Jones, Sunday, Sportsnet: 336,000***
10. NHL, Rangers at Bruins, Sunday, TSN: 317,000*
11. Crashed Ice, Sunday, CBC: 264,000
12. Auto racing, NASCAR Food CIty 500, Sunday, TSN2: 257,000*
13. NHL, Sharks at Flames, Friday, Sportsnet West: 247,000**
14. Auto racing, NASCAR Nationwide, Saturday, TSN: 231,000
15. OHL, Guelph at London, Friday, Sportsnet Ontario: 211,000**
16. NHL, Senators at Stars, Saturday, Sportsnet East, 204,000**
17. Speed skating, World championship, Saturday, CBC: 203,000
18. Hockey, Abbotsford at Toronto Marlboros, Sunday, CBC: 196,000
19. NCAA, Kansas vs. Northern Iowa, Saturday, Score/Sun TV: 187,000*
20. NBA, Blazers at Raptors, Friday, TSN: 187,000
* Viewers on U.S. channel not calculated
** One channel only
** Two channels only
OTHER STUFF: Every few years Australian rules football pops up on television screens, a lot like Kirstie Alley, only slimmer. This time, it's TSN2 bringing the wildest and craziest sport on turf to Canadians. TSN2 will have a weekly game during the 21-game Premier league season, starting Friday at 4:30 a.m. Set those PVRs or alarm clocks or you'll miss the season opener between Geelong and Essendon. ... So how is the NHL doing on NBC in the wake of goodwill created by the Vancouver Olympics? Sunday's Rangers-Bruins game scored a 0.7 overnight rating -- a little better than half of what NBC averaged last season.