Saturday Sports Wrap

October 15th, 2016 | by torontosportsmedia
Saturday Sports Wrap
business of sports

Photo via the CBC



by TSM

Good morning sports fans!

It's been a crazy few days and lots to talk about, so lets get started:


"It is Rogers saying we heard you, hockey fans, so on Saturday night – the first of the 2016-17 NHL season – MacLean will be back where generations of Canadians watched him for 27 years. The unspoken plea? Please forgive us and come back to try on that comfortable old sweater."

That from David Shoalts in the Globe and Mail as Ron MacLean is back to his desk on Rogers Hockey night.

Let's get a few things straight shall we?

Rogers fumbled the ball in many ways, they completely misread the market in every which way, but the ratings that exploded through the ground had next to nothing to do with the host.  For the few people who say that they did not watch because of Strombo, I think you you represent the small minority.

The fact of the matter is it was a complete perfect storm for Rogers with several factors shooting ratings.  

First and foremost, the mere fact that the Canadian teams sucked all at the same time was primarily a driver of people tuning out.  I am sorry Canada, but Leaf fans can make or break the ratings and two years ago the team was not only bad but it was hated.  They were a deplorable bunch and fans wanted nothing to do with them.  The biggest problem?  They didn't complete the job and finish last.  Last season it was a better group, however they DID finish dead last.  Add to that superman going down in Montreal, the other teams being nowhere near the playoffs and, well there ya go there is no reason to watch.


Winning cures all.

Add to that the arrival of Matthews and other young players will increase interest.

Unfortunately, there is no scientific test here.  The Leafs (and other Canadian teams) have improved their rosters.  These teams will be at least interesting to watch, if not better.

Irrespective of who is on TV, the ratings will raise and sink with the performance of the teams.

The Leafs ratings will be higher provided Matthews remains a topic of interest. (a 4 goal game in game 1 is a hell of a start, NBC's sports network is picking up tonight's game).

Love them or otherwise, to fault the talent that was let go from Rogers hockey should ratings go up this season is completely devoid of fact. For what it's worth I am neither a fan of MacLean or Strombo as it relates to hockey.  Next to the former morning hose on TSN radio and the current host on the Fan, MacLean (based on emails I get about this website) is the most divisive member of the sports media talent world in Canada.

I think what's been lost in many parts of the discussion is that sports TV ratings are down almost everywhere.  With the Blue Jays being the unicorn, the rest of the sports world is getting destroyed in terms of ratings.  The NFL is without question the world's biggest entertainment machine and their ratings are down.  MLB? (excpet Canada and Blue Jays) ratings are down. NBA??? Olympics (in the USA) the ratings are down.   The belief used to be that the "kids" were streaming games and therefore the TV ratings were down.  Only problem is the streaming numbers are not exactly great; more importantly the streaming numbers do not represent even the dip in traditional tv ratings.

 The question is, where has the audience gone?

Part of the problem I have is that pro sports teams do not accurately report attendance numbers.  I know the why, but the fact that over 50% of NFL teams report attendance numbers that are over 100% of capacity tells me there is a reporting problem.  Tickets sold, number of people through turnstiles, season tickets, walk ups….there is no OFFICIAL standard.  Teams aren't even being 100% truthful on capacity, at least not in terms of what I've always believed capacity means.  If they were no team would have more than 100% attendance at an event.  Sorry, it seems like an over simplified position, but if the stadium really holds 50,000 people, you can't report 50,001.  

"Male millennials (ages 21 to 35) watch esports as often as baseball or hockey, with each activity claiming 22 percent of men from that age group as fans."

That via Venture Beat. While one statistic alone should not be given too much weight, it's at least the first one I've seen that makes sense.  If the younger generation is spending more time watching Esports than traditional sports this is a HUGE challenge for all leagues and networks, online or otherwise.

BTW, this is not a new challenge for MLB, this is something that's becoming a trend

The conclusion for now is that to those of us who care, the trends are concerning.

The news with the Blue Jays is more encouraging:

"The Rangers-Blue Jays ALDS was hardly a ratings' hit with Dallas-Fort Worth viewers. Challenged by a scheduled that included two weekday games and a Sunday night game that went up against the Clinton-Trump debate, the three games averaged a relative paltry 5.8 rating. That's down more than 30 percent from last season's more competitive 5-game elimination by the Blue Jays which averaged an 8.4." 

No, not that news. This kind of news:

"But while the team's series-clinching win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday averaged a whopping 4.73 million viewers on Sportsnet is impressive, it's kind of what you'd expect for such a big event. That game's audience, for example, peaked at 7 million in the decisive 10th inning — about the same number that watched Andre DeGrasse and Usain Bolt duel it out in the 200 metres at the Rio Olympics." that via Yahoo!


While I dont have them specifically, I am told hte radio ratings for the Jays were off the charts too.


Speaking of radio, I've become addicted to the Podcast Addict App.  It's made listening to sports radio some much more enjoyable and productive. 

Couple of thoughts:

Bob McCown and Damien Cox have been fantastic of late.  On the Jays especially, but I was really impressed with the coverage on Matthews 4 goal night.  Lots of times media members make too much of small things, but McCown recognized this for what it was and gave it it's due.  If you haven't listened to it try to find the segment with Lou talking Matthews.  On the Jays side, their interview with  Ross Atkins on the Jays roster selection was terrific. Kudos to Madani for serving in a perma role too.

The day after the Jays beat the Rangers I tuned into the Fan morning show.  Sorry foks, it remains un-listenable to me.  Over I flipped to TSN and I caught Mike and Mike… LOL, the biggest morning in Toronto in, well a long time and TSN had no one on air due to Thanksgiving.


Mike was impressed!

One of the joys of podcasting radio, I can listen to both Hockey Cental at Noon and Leafs lunch.  Both equally entertaining for different reasons.

What would a week look like without some bad Twitter right?


Not much funny about this, parody or not:


and Bruce Arthur and Al Strachan kept us entertained too



That's all for now.. Happy Toronto Sports!




  1. mario says:

    Thanks for the read . I could not agree more with your take on the  Rogers / HNIC  ratings . The host was a very small factor with the low ratings as poor as it seemed. Some people just hate change. Look what it has done for the Jays ratings.

  2. Bgolz says:

    Al Strachan… how he can manage to use technology is incredible. I guess once upon his time he was a respected journalist? Glad that was before my time. Now I just need to burn out memories of Don Cherry.

    This week I had a University student try to sell me weekly subscription to Toronto Star for $4 a week. I really wanted to say “Yes” but on the way to my door the student had tripped on weekly flyers that I had yet to recycle. I don’t need another daily chore. Interesting tactic to have someone that surely didn’t read the newspaper try to sell it.

    Eventually someone will figure out an online subscription model since at this point most of the podcasts I listen to do fundraising drives. I guess it all comes down to perceived value and necessity to pay. Right now I can’t see paying for stories, but I would to subscribe to good podcasts or YouTube videos (ie Sloan Sports Conference). I’m guessing it will all come around in this next generation.

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      For reasons that is hard to explain, online subscriptions have not hit with papers as they have with other mediums.  Take a look at Netflix 1/4 earnings yesterday.  People are willing to pay for content, for some reason not yet on papers.

      • John says:

        It's pretty easy to explain ;p  I can get "good-enough" news-like content from all sorts of free sources.  Nobody is creating House of Cards for free.

        Print newspapers have always generated 70-80% of revenues from ads, so even if everybody who paid for print pays for online, newspapers would still be in trouble.

  3. MontfromLondonOnt says:

    Good articles as usual – But I have to ask – If I was to spark up a stogie in the Rogers Centre how long would I last before the local constabulary would toss me out on my ear – Unless of course I was a grossly overpaid ballplayer – And I am told there is only one set of rules for all – As minor as this is in the grand scheme of things this stuff pisses me off –

  4. Cirroc says:

    I must represent the minority because I did tune out because of Strombo and the terrible set SN tried to pass off as HNIC.  I like George but he was just not right for that gig.  

    Jesus, Bruce Arthur is insufferable.  Indulging Strachan is like getting into a verbal argument with the crazy cat lady that lives at the end of your street.  Any reasonable person should be better than that.

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      To play devil's advocate, I have to ask.. If the Leafs were on fire, had won last years lottery and had McDavid, you still would not watch HNIC with Strombo?

    • John says:

      So you didn't watch the actual game, because of who was on the pregame show?

    • Rick in Barrie says:

      I wouldn't say you are in the minority @Cirroc.

      I unofficially polled probably 30-40 friends, family co-workers (all males 20-60 yrs old) and only two said they enjoyed Strombo. The rest to a person, said they started watching hockey after the game started to avoid Strombo & skipped the intermissions entirely.

  5. Drumanchor says:

    Interesting to read why some of the younger – more desirable – viewers may be tuning out. Makes sense.

    However, is it fair to say that some of the older viewers may be tuning out because of the athletes themselves? In particular, the endless on field celebrations? Watching these guys FREAK out over the smallest things with the strutting, taunting of crowds and endless slow motion howling.

    For this middle aged viewer, it's unpleasant, predictable and boring. 

    (Now, don't get me started on Marlin's Man.)

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      I think you raise the hardest part to figure out for network execs everywhere.  Where is the older audience going?

  6. Patrick says:

    Interesting, I'm not much of a fan of the "Podcast Addict" app. I much prefer the not-free but well worth it in my opinion "Pocket Casts."

    Speaking of sports media, I'm glad Keith Law said what everyone was thinking about the Tebow to baseball story. Been a fan of Klaw since the Baseball Today podcast.

  7. Robinaurora says:

    I realize the writer here is a fan of mccown and doesn’t listen to overdrive. Overdrive is a far superior show. They did a fantastic job covering Matthews 4 goals too. They used lion king music coming back from commercial breaks. “I just can’t wait to be king” It was quite funny. TSN also does a way better job of covi g the Jays that any Sportsnet property. I find that hilarious….(and if you look at the street, no one is in their cars on Thanksgiving Monday, so how many people are listening to sports radio? I think that was a good bus decision and a chance to let their staff have some family time

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      Actually not true.  I am a fan of OD.  I just haven't had much to say on their show of late.  It's funny you say I am a fan of McCown. I am accused of being a fan basher. LOL

  8. Tighthead says:

    Arthur deleted a tweet where he accused Strachan of having a hood in his closet. He has gone down that road before with Strachan. 

    I think Strachan is a hack, but his anti-Arthur stance can be entertaining   




  9. Steve in Waterloo says:

    Re Ratings:  No one ever mentioned the mind numbing endless onslaught of commercials for reduced ratings of NFL games.  No sane / sober mind can sit through an NFL game doing nothing else but watching.

    And for what its worth, goggles  in the locker room are stupid!

  10. Justin says:

    I'm not surprised the Star asked Arthur to tone down his manic obsession with criticizing Trump on twitter. His elitist holier-than-thou tone is completely insufferable and it's gotten to the point where I've stopped reading his articles because of it. He can be a thoughtful and engaging sportswriter at times, but his twitter persona has made me actively dislike him and I no longer have any interest in reading him. I'm probably in the minority on this, but I wonder if anyone else has also stopped reading Bruce because of his hackneyed anti-Trump fetish. I've had enough of this guy. 

    • Steve says:

      In the same boat as you but I cut him from my Twitter feed and stopped reading his articles around two years ago. I found him insufferable then so I can't even imagine how bad it is now.

    • gerry says:

      Same here… I cut 'arthur' off a few years back and am better off without his hypocrisy.

      No longer watch the reporters, and will switch from tsn radio if he happens to appear.

      So yeah, you are not alone my friend.

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      But he has you talking about it, which the Star has to love.

  11. lister says:

    I mostly like the written Bruce Arthur and the former PTS contributer Bruce Arthur but I really got tired of his Tweets last year. He along with a bunch of other non-related people were culled from my Twitter follow list in one fell swoop.

  12. Original Mitch says:

    I love how SN reporters LOVE touting Jays ratings as if they had anything to do with it other than airing it. They have nothing to do with the broadcast or the team on the field. Yet I’m seeing them run stories after stories about how great they are and folks like Madani giving himself a pat on the back. No wonder nobody likes Sportsnet.

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      Many Sportsnet folks love to bash TSN for reasons I don't quite understand.  It appears to me that they don't understand the value of having competition for their own personal job value.  If TSN ( more specifically TSN radio) were to disappear how much leverage do they think they have over Rogers?  I understand the friendly competition.  IMHO some take it too far.

      • original Mitch says:

        It's an insecurity thing IMO. Despite the ratings, most would agree TSN is a better network, generally speaking and SN can't get past that, so they resort to childish gloating and bashing.  If they spent half the time they do on production instead of bragging about ratings they have nothing to do with, they could actually be good and earn the ratings crown instead of just buying them. 

      • edge says:

        Agreed.  I remember reading Jay Onrait made that point when he and Dan O'Toole went to the States.  Because there is competition among sports networks in the US, talent is more more highly valued.  With only two networks in Canada, talent really has no leverage and aside from certain hockey commentators the networks act like it's no big deal when talent leaves.  But in the states, commentators such as Skip Bayless and Mike Torico and Bill Simmons make headlines when they jump ship.  I prefer TSN anyday over SN, but I do wish TSN paid more attention to other sports besides hockey when they had the NHL rights. 

  13. JL says:

    Just want to touch on the TSN 1050 Thansgiving day show. From a business perspective, yes terrible decision not having anyone in when your top competitor has their full regular lineup. The jays win was only the icing on the cake to hurt them more. Knowing that the game was scheduled they probably shouldve had someone in. On the flip side, I work in retail and I have watched over the years as days off for holidays come and go, slowly but surely being eliminated. It has went from having the day off and being closed, to being open and doing a small amount of business, to doing close to a normal amount of business, to being a regular stressful day. People are offended these days when they find out you are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New years. 3 days a year. I say let them have their day off.

    I agree with the comment someone made about sportsnet bragging about Jays ratings. They are the only broadcast, settle down. When you have no competition on the radio and Tv its not hard to post up ratings when its a must see game.

    Bruce Arthur is awful. ‘Freedom and equality for everyone. Unless you dont agree with me. Unless you are a conservative or republican. Unless you so much as dont mind Trump. Then you’re an idiot, or sexist, or a racist. Seriously did he just accuse someone of being a KKK member? He should be more then warned by the Star.

    • billyjoejimbob says:

      If you want to work in sports, you understand what comes with it. Fewer holidays, nights and weekends off.

      Don't get involved if you cant handle that.

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      Re Thanksgiving or any other holiday.  It's nothing more than bad luck.  One station decided to run normal schedule, one did not.  It is really not that much more than that.  

      • torontosportsmedia says:

        Sorry I hit send too quickly.   What I meant was, if nothing happened on the Sunday before Thanksgiving no one would be saying very much.  The fact that the Jays won a big game and moved on really made TSN look bad.  I would say in the long term, the fact that Rogers continues to have their guys on air on holidays and TSN does not could be looked at both positively and negatively.  On the positive you could say that TSN takes care of it's people and let's them spend holiday time with family.  On the flip side you could say that Rogers is more committed to their customer and continually delivering the best fan experience possible.

  14. Mike V says:

    It’s not like this game snuck up on TSN. It was known for months that if Toronto played in the ALDS there would be a game on Sunday and if necessary one on Monday as well. Going with US syndication (not just local guest hosts) is a perfect representation on how much real effort Bell has put into 1050. Of course, they were able to do a live Argos pre-game show in the afternoon. Priorities.

    Every media channel highlights good ratings over the competition, it’s part of the business. I don’t mind it because it’s one of the few times we actually get audience data in the country thanks to the secrecy from Numeris.

  15. Antonio says:

    I dont mind when a celebrity or sports writer comments on politics but Arthur seems to have lost his mind over Trump. Look at his time line and you'll agree.

    • Mike V says:

      Well if you're going to get politically active against a candidate, Trump is a great one to pick.

      • Antonio says:

        I wouldnt refer to banging out a tweet every 2 minutes as "politically active." He's really just an over paid troll.

      • Stefan Bruggemann says:

        It's hard to have a fruitful conversation about politics online or on social media. It often degenerates into name calling at the best of times. Really listening is also a lost art.

  16. Lemmon says:

    Seeing a lot of closeted (or, at the very least, thinly veiled) Trump supporters on this website…

    Rather than people taking issue with Trump as a candidate to run the most powerful (unfortunately) nation on earth, they take issue with a Canadian journalist who tweets about how awful he is?

    Not that this is surprising to me, after years of reading this site, but people on here have their priorities a tad askew. 

    • Tighthead says:

      We aren't hear to discuss politics. I think much less of Trump than I do of Arthur, but saying Bruce is annoying on Twitter is on topic to the website. Nobody is here to talk politics. 

      If your priority is to defeat Trump there likely aren't many voters on here. 

    • torontosportsmedia says:

      clearly not the place to talk about politics…. 

  17. Antonio says:


    We currently have a divisive (and a completely incompetent) PM. If a journalist went after him a dozen times a day, I would get bored and annoyed with it as well.


    So no, some of us don't have our "priorities a tad askew."

  18. dogpounder says:


  19. Stefan Bruggemann says:

    I must be one of the very few, then, who preferred much of HNIC the way it was pre-Rogers with Ron M. It's not that I didn't like George. I like George but maybe not in that role. Maybe he was miscast. He may not have been but it seemed to me that he was trying too hard to be cool/hip. That's not what I was looking for. Ron McLean is a lifer and he appears )to me anyway) to know hockey at the grassroots level as well as the NHL level.  Ditto for some of the other guys like Kypreos and Kelly Hrudey.

    To me (and I realize I may be in a minority), Ron was Joe-average-every-man Canada (like Grapes) [Tim Hortons] but George was more Toronto [Starbucks]. McLean is more able to be both, actually. This is coming from someone who has lived in Toronto for 30 years and loves Toronto and Toronto teams. I'm a Leaf fan who continued to watch even over the past two years (even if it was a bit less) but I didn't like much of the new format. 

    Anyway, bottom line is I'm very happy Ron is back and the reason I was less interested was because the old cast was gone. I liked the old HNIC theme music too but that's another story.

  20. Lemmon says:

    What an absolute disaster this has been: 

    Perfect example of how a corporation cannot manufacture tradition or hype. I hate when companies try and do this. Normally, everybody hits the whole patriotism thing way too hard, but in the Argos case, it was that an outdoor stadium was the cure for all ails that afflicted the team. 

    The Argos are as good as dead. Tons of CFL fans will be up in arms, but that won't make it any less true. 

    • Mike V says:

      Yeah, turns out those Grey Cup tickets were overpriced after all.Worst it that the management around this is utterly horrendous. They are not offering refunds to most fans because their seat sections sold well (thus no need to discount those tickets now) or only offering it as a credit to 2017 season ticket purchases. The Argos/CFL's most loyal fans are the ones that get screwed over in this situation. I wonder how many new STH won't be back after what's transpired this year. Even the most pessimistic forecast wouldn't have thought it got this bad.

  21. Mike S says:

    When it was announced that Mike Johnson wouldn't be back this season on Rogers NHL telecasts I thought it was a strange move but I decided to reserve judgment until I found out who would replace him………………now that it appears much of his work has been given to Louie DeBrusk I am scratching my head even more


    Maybe it was a cost cutting move…………..but if it was it was not worth it

  22. Mookie says:

    Totally off topic, but I am really digging the TBS pxp crew for the ALCS.  Ron Darling in particular is excellent.

    • Pants Go Brown says:

      I agree.  These guys are very sparing in their commentary.  No verbal diarrhea like Buck and Tabby.

      • Sam In Scarb says:

        Now that the Blue Jay season is now complete,I hope the owner of the team takes a hard look to upgrade their TV coverage  (Buck & Pat ) .

        An upgrade would not be hard at all to achieve.Of course having Dan S.doing more games would be great but don't know if that is possible with ALL his other commitments.

  23. Anthony says:

    You guys are right…the Blue Jays TV guys have to be the worst right, no independent experts would say they where better than you guys think……..

    Awful announcing wouldn't rate them 8th overall, oh wait (gasp)


    • Mookie says:

      Your Awful Announcing rankings actually do prove a great point.  Jay and Pat (which is a national broadcast across Canada) are ranked lower than 7 of the US regional broadcast teams…

      So where we would they compare to other national broadcast crews like ESPN, TBS Fox etc?  Yeah, 8th is probably about right, oh wait (gasp)…

      Point being, they are no where near the quality of any of the other national broadcast crews.  And like the article says, the ranking is likely that high given the fact that Shulman does a chunk of the games.  Buck and Pat were 20th prior to that change.


      • Anthony says:

        You, perhaps purposely, ignoring the point. 

        Most on here, who also rip anything with the Rogers branding on it, say they are unlistenable. Well, they are the 8th best broadcast team in baseball. 

        If the 8th best is unlistenable, what does that say about the 23 others? 

        You get my point, people complain to complain. Good for them but I don't get it, would hate to have that level of negativity in my life. 

  24. Anthony says:

    Rogers must have bought Awful announcing overnight and altered those rankings…only way they could be that high, right….;)

  25. windsor oldtimer says:

    A dream booth for the 162 “regional” Jay broadcasts would be Dan and Joe Siddal. Even Buck and Joe would be better then Tabler.

  26. Greaser says:

    Cubs win! This is going to be a great World Series. 

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