Busy sports sked brings mild ratings to Ceeb

Perhaps its was a case of post-Olympics burnout, but CBC did not fare as well as it hoped with its sports programming last month, one of the most hectic ever for its sports crew.

Perhaps its was a case of post-Olympics burnout, but CBC did not fare as well as it hoped with its sports programming last month, one of the most hectic ever for its sports crew.

The semi-finals and finals of the Tim Hortons Brier, which ran March 18 and 19, drew an average of 842,000, with the primetime finals between Ontario and Quebec garnering 984,000. CBC Sports executive director Nancy Lee did not have access to ratings stats from the 2005 curling championships, but concedes, ‘It was quite a drop over the year before.’

‘When we redid our [Brier] contract and brought TSN into the fold [as a second broadcaster], that freed up our afternoons to allow the Commonwealth Games time,’ says Lee. ‘It is disappointing that the Games weren’t picked up by another network. Late March has been the busiest time in the history of the Corporation’s sports coverage.’

CBC drew an average of 86,000 afternoon viewers for its Commonwealth Games, on a short delay from Australia, March 15-26, and 141,000 during its late-night rebroadcasts. The Games feature many of the same events and athletes who will see competition in the 2008 Summer Olympics from Beijing, which CBC will also air. The Games brought only a slight bump to CBC’s usual afternoon ratings, but doubled those of the late-night slots, which usually average between 50,000 and 60,000, says Lee.

Meanwhile, the World Figure Skating Championships ran nightly on the Ceeb March 20-26 and drew an average of 645,000 viewers in primetime, which, according to Lee, is consistent with the 2005 competition. The broadcasts from Calgary peaked at 810,000 on March 24 during the women’s short program.

On the drama side, the CBC was disappointed by the poor showing of the MOW Heyday, which drew a mere 240,000 on March 27 at 8 p.m. The film, directed by actor Gordon Pinsent, won a Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Television Awards just seven days prior.

CTV’s heavily promoted original romantic comedy MOW Playing House fared better, drawing 513,000 on March 24 in its Friday 8 p.m. timeslot, according to BBM.

Results were better for Hunt for Justice: The Louise Arbour Story, which garnered 702,000 viewers the following night in the same slot, according to Nielsen numbers. Justice, about the Canadian Supreme Court Justice who helped bring war criminal Slobodan Milosevic to trial, was fast-tracked to air after the March 11 death of the former Serbian leader.

Meanwhile, CTV drew a season average of 733,000 for its fifth season of Degrassi: The Next Generation, an 11% increase over the drama’s fourth cycle, according to Nielsen.