The CFL TV Ratings are in for the 108th Grey Cup on Sunday night. As expected, Winnipeg’s thrilling 33-25 overtime victory over Hamilton on TSN scored the highest rating of the 2021 season. But how did the game’s viewership match up to Grey Cups on TSN from years past?
CFL Grey Cup TV Ratings Since 2015
- 2015: Ottawa/Edmonton 4.079M
- 2016: Calgary/Ottawa 3.6M
- 2017: Toronto/Calgary 4.072M
- 2018: Ottawa/Calgary 3.1M
- 2019: Hamilton/Winnipeg 3.6M
For the regular season, the CFL saw a dip in viewership on TSN in their final three weeks of the regular season, averaging a shade under 500,000 viewers per telecast for the year. With Week 16’s games being the low mark of the year with an average of 331,000 viewers.
As expected, the first two weeks of the CFL playoffs saw a significant spike in viewership, averaging 980,000 viewers in the four semi-final and divisional final games. (865,000 & 1,096,000)
2021 CFL Grey Cup TV Rating On TSN
- The 108th Grey Cup which saw the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stage a twelve point comeback in the 4th quarter to win in overtime averaged 2.873 million viewers. A significant decrease from two years ago. (3.6 million).
- The overall number for Grey Cup 108 is down 22 percent from 2019.
RDS numbers for the 108th Grey Cup were not made available upon request as of press time.
- Update (12/14): TSN PR released these updated figures on Tuesday morning through social media. The new figures combine the RDS and TSN numbers. As well as unique viewership totals when it pertains to streaming numbers.
The ever-evolving TV landscape has seen a lot of changes in the two years since the CFL staged their last championship game. While most popular sports entities have emerged as one of the final beacons in live viewership. Some sports leagues like the CFL have seen a dip in their overall TV numbers because of the changes in how most people consume content.
The streaming and social media numbers for the Grey Cup reflect the shift and changes in the viewership tracking model.
The expectation level for average linear TV viewership has gone down for leagues like the CFL. Going into the Grey Cup, many inside the league still hoped that the game would draw 3 million viewers on TSN alone, and the CFL fell short of that number. Several factors are involved: the later start, NFL competition, and the two-year layoff. But the overall number is disappointing.
As a comparison point, the late afternoon NFL action Sunday on CTV averaged 815,000 viewers, and the Sunday Night NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears averaged 359,000 viewers on CTV2/TSN.
Based on the old model, the 108th Grey Cup is the lowest viewed Grey Cup on record. The RDS figures added 227,000 viewers to the TSN number. However, the Grey Cup on TSN also had only 822,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demo. It’s worth noting that this key demographic is a huge part of the cord-cutting and streaming crowd. So that could explain away the poor performance in the 25-54 demo.
Streaming is certainly up significantly but in today’s day and age, it’s difficult to gauge the actual share of the total audience when raw numbers are not provided.
2021 CFL Grey Cup TV Rating On ESPN2
The Grey Cup ratings on ESPN2 Sunday evening will be updated in this article when they become available. Early indications are that the game was ranked outside America’s top 150 cable shows.
- UPDATE: (Per ESPN) Sunday’s Grey Cup game at 6pm ET averaged 129,000 viewers on ESPN2.
- The CFL’s championship game faced very stiff competition from the NFL on late Sunday afternoon/early evening. The CBS national NFL game at 4:25 pm ET drew over 21 million viewers. Sunday Night Football on NBC averaged over 18 million viewers.
- Going up against the sports and entertainment giant that is the NFL is never an easy task. For example in the same time period that the Grey Cup aired in the United States. College Basketball on ESPN2, the CFL’s early lead in averaged 151,000 viewers. College Basketball on FS1 did 122,000 viewers on Sunday Night. In the same time frame, Formula 1 Racing on ESPN averaged 147,000 viewers. Even NFL highlights shows on NFL Network averaged over 250,000 viewers from on late Sunday afternoon/evening.
For what it’s worth, The 107th Grey Cup on November 24th, 2019 had a 0.1 rating and averaged 109,000 viewers on ESPN2. So despite the heavy competition, the rating was slightly up from two years ago.
More historical context provided here. Dating back to 2014. Courtesy of ESPN.
In case you missed it, the Eastern Semifinal game on ESPN2 between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes two weeks ago averaged just 90,000 viewers. Also, outside the top 150 rated cable tv shows.
Heading into the Grey Cup, there have only been seven total CFL games that have aired on ESPN2 this season. Nielsen Media Research no longer monitors games that have aired on ESPNNews. Counting the Grey Cup, the CFL averaged 120,625 viewers per telecast this season on ESPN2.
- Week 1: Winnipeg vs. Hamilton: 61,000 viewers
- Week 1: Edmonton vs. Ottawa: 174,000 viewers
- Week 3: Edmonton vs. BC: 116,000 viewers
- Week 3: Toronto vs. Winnipeg: 76,000 viewers
- Week 4: Calgary vs. Winnpeg: 78,000 viewers
- Week 8: Saskatchewan vs. BC: 241,000 viewers
- Semifinal Playoff Game: Montreal vs. Hamilton: 90,000 viewers
- 108th CFL Grey Cup 12/12: Winnipeg vs. Hamilton: 129,000 viewers