Toronto Mike

What's the Deal with CFL Television Ratings?

Television ratings are a very inexact science. Radio ratings, too, but this is about Monday's CFL matchup between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Ti-Cats. It was the Labour Day Classic, so you knew many across this country would be tuning in.

A small collective of unknown people across this country carry PPM devices to record what they watch. Then, this number is extrapolated to estimate the number of viewers in total. It's like polling, and seems to discount streamers and such. Like I said, it's a very inexact science.

I follow Steve Simmons on Twitter, and saw this tweet from him. 2.9 million people tuned in, he wrote. That's an incredible number!

2.9 million was the audience on Labour Day for the Argos-Ticats game on @TSN_Sports. So, yes, people are indeed watching the CFL.— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) September 7, 2016

Maybe Steve was wrong? After all, he's been wrong before. A little digging reveals the source of this information. The official CFL account had tweeted that 2.9 million Canadians had tuned in to watch a regular season CFL match. Wow.

📺: 2.9 million Canadians watched the @Ticats & @TorontoArgos on @TSN_Sports  during @MarksCanada  #LDWeekend 👍 #CFL— CFL (@CFL) September 7, 2016

But wait, there's more. Arash Madani, who covers the CFL for Rogers Sportsnet, claims the actual number is substantially less. He has it at 902,000. That's a lot of people watching the CFL, but a far cry from 2.9 million. Arash claims this is the actual number.

Want accurate TV numbers for the #CFL on Labour Day? Argos-Ticats did 902,000 on English TV. The Stamps-Esks did 781,000.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) September 8, 2016
In actuality, no #CFL game has done a million viewers yet this season. One did in 2015 and that was Labour Day.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) September 8, 2016

So, what gives? Why is the CFL tweeting 2.9 million watched if the ratings tell us 902,000 watched?


I've spoken with the CFL's Director of Communications. He's explained the discrepancy. The average audience was 902,000, and a total of 2.9 million Canadians watched some of the coverage.

In my opinion, this wasn't clear in the tweets from @CFL or Steve Simmons, but Arash is playing a little dumb here himself. He likely knew exactly where the CFL got the 2.9 million figure.

It's more Rogers vs. Bell games. Grab some popcorn and hear me and Dave Hodge talk about it here.

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