TSN edges CBC as NHL returns

Sportscasters went back to work on Oct. 4 as the National Hockey League opened its 2006/07 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs-Ottawa Senators matchup scoring a strong 1.3 million viewers on TSN.

Sportscasters went back to work on Oct. 4 as the National Hockey League opened its 2006/07 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs-Ottawa Senators matchup scoring a strong 1.3 million viewers on TSN.

The cable channel’s main competition that night came from sister station CTV, which aired the much-anticipated return of Lost to two million viewers at 9 p.m., providing a solid lead-in for CSI: NY with 2.6 million viewers.

The next night, CBC aired a special weeknight edition of Hockey Night in Canada to 1.2 million viewers for the Leafs-Sens rematch, while 670,000 viewers stuck around for game two of the doubleheader, as the Edmonton Oilers played host to the Calgary Flames.

HNIC lost the Thursday night battle to Survivor, which drew 2.2 million viewers at 8 p.m. on Global, while over at CTV, 1.9 million tuned in for Grey’s Anatomy in the same timeslot. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation followed on CTV with a week-high 3.5 million viewers.

Numbers for HNIC’s first appearance in its usual Saturday night timeslot Oct. 7 slid to 1.1 million for a Leafs-Montreal Canadiens matchup. That’s down from 1.7 million for HNIC’s season premiere in 2005, which saw higher numbers in general after the NHL’s return following the player lockout.

Meanwhile, part four of CBC’s 10-hour doc series Hockey: A People’s History had an average viewership of 320,000 on Oct. 8, down from 390,000 for its second episode on Sept. 24. Both figures are well below expectation.

Still with the Ceeb, new reality show Dragon’s Den, in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas to five Canadian business leaders, netted a soft 219,000 viewers for its Oct. 4 debut.

But comedy staples The Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes saw solid debuts on Oct. 3, with Mercer’s fourth-season premiere, featuring a guest spot by newsmaker Tie Domi, generating 713,000 viewers, helping to boost ratings for 22 Minutes, which had 727,000.

CBC is relying on its comedies to draw viewers to Chris Haddock’s new crime series Intelligence, which debuted after 22 Minutes on Tuesday, Oct. 10, as Playback went to press.

Intelligence will have competition this fall from CTV’s new U.S. crime drama The Nine, which premiered Oct. 10, after it was originally scheduled to air three days prior.

CBC was to roll out the 8 x 60 FLQ crisis drama October 1970 on Thursday, Oct. 12, while the two-part mini Above and Beyond, about the bold plan to ferry aircraft from Gander, NF across the North Atlantic during WWII, airs Sunday, Oct. 29.