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OSC Weekly Ratings Wrapup

by David Carlson
November 14, 2019 - Canadian Football League (CFL)

MLS cup loses half of last year's audience

MLS Cup was aired 3pm on ABC Sunday, and it came in with only 823,000 viewers on the network. Across all channels (including Univision and TUDN) it pulled in 1.27 million viewers. The number of 18-49 viewers fell from 666k last year to 285k for 2019, an even steeper decline.

The precipitous drop isn't much of a surprise, though, since last year's final was played on a Saturday night in December in Prime Time on FOX, the week after the College Football Conference championships had already been played, and before any bowl games started. MLS had likely found the best spot in which to hold their championship game as far as having the stage to themselves last year, but they went back to holding it on a Sunday against multiple NFL games. We'll see if they get back to their senses next year or if wrapping the season earlier is worth the sacrifice.

CFL still dismal on ESPN2, but doing well at home

In other Sunday ratings, ESPN2 showed both CFL playoff games on Sunday, but neither finished in the Top 150 original cable shows, which isn't surprising against NFL football and MLS Cup. Unlike most of the other leagues, though, the CFL is not likely to be concerned about avoiding the NFL, since their primary focus is Canadian ratings.

Speaking of those, from information at, the two CFL playoff games pulled in 626,000 and 1.1 million viewers Sunday in Canada. The MLS Cup, featuring Toronto FC, only pulled in 747,000 viewers in Canada, directly against the two CFL games, so the CFL has to feel encouraged about that showing. It also fared well against NFL competition, as the Sunday Night Football NFL game pulled in 725,000 viewers in Canada.

Top 10 OSC Ratings Storylines of 2019, numbers 10-7:

We are going to go through an overview of the top stories in OSC league TV ratings over the next three weeks, starting with numbers 10-7 below.

10. World TeamTennis on CBS

The WTT had its first match on over-the-air (OTA) TV and pulled in 409,000 viewers on CBS. The demo rating of .05 showed that it is mostly older folks who are interested in watching a random tennis event on TV.

9. ArenaBowl Returns to ESPN networks

The Arena Football League showcased its first game since the 2016 Arenabowl on an ESPN network and pulled in a respectable (considering the league had no wide network distribution during the season) 0.09 demo rating and 243,000 viewers on a Sunday night on ESPN2.

This showing could have been positive news looking forward to 2020, but the AFL recently announced they were shutting down all local team operations, and may go to a mostly PLL/BIG3-like touring model in 2020.

8. NWSL gets on ESPN2

The NWSL tried to ride the wave of the Women's World Cup with a schedule of games on ESPNews, the playoffs on ESPN2 and the championship on ESPN. The wave didn't translate, however, as the best the league could pull in was 166,000 viewers for the championship and a 0.06 demo rating for one of the semi-final games the week before.

7. CFL's ESPN ratings not impressive

We will see what the division finals and Grey Cup bring, but so far the CFL's ESPN ratings this year have been fairly disappointing, not even registering in the Top 150 original cable telecasts most days ESPN2 or ESPNews airs a CFL game. Whether ESPN or the CFL are very concerned about those numbers, or if it is mostly filler for ESPN, remains to be seen.

Follow OSC TV and ratings discussion at

NOTE: Don't know what the "demo" is? Unsure of why the different ratings numbers don't match up? Read our explanation of TV ratings in our first article here.

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Canadian Football League Stories from November 14, 2019

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