March 8, 2012
Curling continues ratings climb at Brier
By Terry Jones, QMI Agency
SASKATOON - You'd think with no Kevin Martin, no Jeff Stoughton, the abysmal performance of Brad Gushue, the absence of an even modest success story from a team east of Ontario and with the host province in last place, TSN's ratings would be in the toilet.
But they're not.
Indeed, there seems to be no stopping the rocket ride being enjoyed by curling on TV.
The numbers keep going up. And up. And up.
It's another ballistic Brier on TV.
Televised draws in the round robin of this year's Brier are once again pulling in over half a million viewers. The prime time playoff games will likely push the average higher than previous years.
"It really is a phenomenal story," said TSN president Stewart Johnson. "We now consider curling a pillar property on TSN.
"It's become a ratings powerhouse year after year. And we're off to a great start with this year's Brier again."
Overall audiences for the 2011 London, Ont. Brier were up 13% from the year before. The overall average in 2011 was 685,000, up from 606,000 the year before and 443,000 (under a different ratings system) in 2009.
The final averaged 1.3 million and 1.56 million in each of the last two years.
And it's not just the men. The women are putting up TV numbers like no other sport in the nation. By a Saskatchewan mile.
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts enjoyed an overall average of 553,000 average this year, up from 514,000, in 2011, 449,000 in 2010 and 400,000 (under the old rating system) in 2009.
For three straight years, the Scotties final has been watched by an average audience of more than a million - 1.022, 1.12 and 1.17 million people.
If you're trying to project ratings for the Brier playoff games this weekend, consider the numbers for the Scotties in Red Deer were 792,000 for the 1-2 game, 726,000 for the 3-4 game and 865,000 for the semi-final.
Most amazing of all, perhaps, the much maligned bronze-medal game instituted last year, widely panned by everybody including the curlers who have to play in it, this year drew an average audience of 631,000 for a morning game in Red Deer.
By themselves, maybe those numbers don't mean much to the average Canadian sports fan. But for comparison purposes, TSN's Canadian Football League average last year was 637,000. And TSN's average for National Hockey League games last year was 707,000.
Again. Average audience:
And that's not the whole story.
Consider that the hockey and football games are played in prime time. The highly hyped morning draw featuring Kevin Koe and James Koe began at 7:30 a.m. in Alberta and 6:30 a.m. in B.C..
And Koe's game against Manitoba's Rob Fowler Wednesday night was bumped to TSN2 to make way for the contracted Wednesday night Toronto Maple Leafs game.
"I think it's interesting that TSN now televises 250 hours of curling a year. That's more than the CFL," said CCA events director Warren Hansen.
Johnson says TSN has a policy not to compare properties.
"We clearly consider hockey a pillar property," he said. "We clearly consider football to be a pillar property. And we clearly consider curling to be a pillar property. Curling is right up there with the other feature properties we carry.
"We consider curling one of the best sports for TV. One great thing about it, compared to any other sport, is that curling's consistency is at a high level.
"It's mesmerizing. It's addictive. It really has been ever since the players agreed to be mic'd up. Like football, there's enough time between plays for an analyst to talk strategy, but with curling you can also can compare that with the players discussing it. You don't get that in any other sport.
"And the network, I think, is now learning to do a better job bringing out personalities."
All of the above, you should know, is why TSN has quietly cut a new deal with the Canadian Curling Association through to 2020.
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