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CFL: Week 5 Labour Day Weekend TV Ratings

The TV ratings are in for week 5 of the CFL season. Labour Day Weekend has always been a later tradition for the Canadian Football League. But this year, due to a later start, the yearly tradition arrived earlier than usual in the regular season.

Overall, in the first four weeks of this season, the CFL has attracted an average audience of 524,000 viewers, an increase of 11% compared to the same period in the 2019 season. So the numbers generated thus far after a two-year layoff has been very positive.

CFL On TSN Week 5 TV Ratings ( Courtesy of TSN/BellMedia)

  • The Week 5 slate of games on TSN averaged 572,000 viewers. An increase of 27% compared to week 5 of the 2019 season. For the season, the CFL is averaging 535,000 viewers per game.
  • Friday September 3rd’s Montreal Alouettes/Ottawa Redblacks game averaged 256,000 viewers. The lowest rated CFL game of the season, to this point. (Week 1, Toronto-Calgary: 318,400)
  • Sunday’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers/Saskatchewan Roughriders game was a smashing success, averaging 990,000 viewers. Making it the most watched CFL ON TSN game since 2015. The telecast was the highest rated game of the 2021 CFL season, besting the week one clash between BC and Saskatchewan, which drew 764,000 viewers.

Labour Day Classic Games TV Ratings

  • Monday afternoon’s LDC clash between eastern rivals, the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats averaged 436,000 viewers.
  • The second half of the LDC doublehader, which saw the Edmonton Elks best the Calgary Stampeders 32-20 in the battle of Alberta, averaged 581,000 viewers.


ESPNNews broadcasted two CFL games this past weekend. But because the network doesn’t have its EN telecasts monitored by Nielsen Media Research. The viewership totals are not observed or released publicly.

In the United States, the CFL ratings to this point have been slightly underwhelming. The rough estimate for games broadcast on ESPN2 is roughly 100,000 viewers per telecast. In weeks 3 & 4, the league’s games aired on ESPN 2 but didn’t rank in the top 150-200 cable TV shows.

On average, The highest-rated CFL game in the US to this point was the ESPN 2 broadcast in week one between the Edmonton Elks and Ottawa REDBLACKS, which registered 174,000 viewers. The game scored a 0.05 in the 18-49 demo. (82nd on Saturday amongst the top 150 Cable shows). The season opener between Winnipeg and Hamilton averaged only 61,000 viewers.

There are several reasons for the lackluster CFL viewership totals in America. Chief among them is the competition. And with the NFL season starting up this weekend, getting eyeballs to sample the Canadian league should be even more challenging.

The only remaining ESPN2 regular-season telecast of a CFL game is on Friday, September 24th, between Saskatchewan and BC. The following ESPN2 broadcast will occur in the playoffs on November 28th, with the Eastern Semi-Final. The 108th Grey Cup will air on ESPN2 on Sunday, December 12th.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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