Millions watch Bombers claim Grey Cup, but no party plans for Flames
Bulls of the Week
For the second consecutive week, football has been at the top of the charts in North America.
The highlights of the bull market were the 107th Grey Cup last Sunday and the NFL triple-header on American Thanksgiving Thursday.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers stunned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, ending a 29-year Grey Cup championship drought for Winnipeg. The Tabbies are now the hungriest team, winless since 1999.
There was good news on a number of fronts for the CFL when it came to television ratings, which were up 14 per cent year-over-year, bouncing back to an average national audience of 3.682 million viewers last Sunday compared to 3.1M one year ago when the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Redblacks squared off in the lowest-rated Grey Cup since 2001.
With last Sunday’s pre-game averaging 1.952M and the post-game at 1.517M, the CFL owned the top three shows in Canadian TV.
All of that — and the fact the Grey Cup is still a top-10 Canadian TV show annually, even in a year in which the Toronto Raptors commanded the remote control in June with average audiences of up to 7.7M for Game 7 of the NBA Finals — was good news for CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
There’s still plenty of work to be done, however, as more than 2M of the Canadians watching Sunday — well more than half — were over the age of 55. Just 1.117M were in the “prized” 25 to 54 advertising demographic. The open question is whether the CFL can ever regain the couple of million young fans lost to the NFL over the past five to seven years?
The other question is when does the Grey Cup return to sellout status, after a last-minute push resulted in a mediocre announced attendance of 35,440 despite the halftime performance in Cowtown by popular country star Keith Urban?
The last time the Grey Cup was held in Calgary in 2009, more than 44K packed McMahon Stadium and a record average viewership of 6.1M watched on TSN and RDS.
Bears of the Week
It was a difficult week for the Calgary Flames, plus several other teams linked one way or another to now former head coach Bill Peters and the NHL itself.
The week’s biggest story resulted in Peters’ resignation Friday morning. The Flames consider the case closed, but it’s far from that for a league that has reeled from accusations from several former players that life has not been a picnic over the years.
In one fell swoop, the Flames were joined in the mess by the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, the new Seattle NHL franchise and others after the Toronto Maple Leafs dismissed Mike Babcock last week.
Hiring practices and human resources protocols in the NHL will never be the same after this week. Ditto for hockey overall.
And while it’s true that hockey has changed as society has evolved, the stories posted this week demonstrate that, at best, the NHL and other feeder leagues are still in transition when it comes to culture of conduct and what is no longer considered appropriate.
Here’s to hoping there’s continued impetus for open channels of communication without a coaching witch hunt that would likely engulf every team in pro hockey.
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