Are TSN and Sportsnet to blame for the dismal Raptors ratings?

The Raptors games ratings are grim compared to the Leafs (logo via Wikimedia)

The poor Raptors, they’re bombing in the ratings and subsequently can’t seem to get the sports networks to give a damn. Last week the Toronto Star had an interesting piece on the dismal Raptors ratings and coverage and it’s almost comical how poorly Sportsnet and TSN are treating the Raptors. TSN and Sportsnet are seemingly transfixed by NHL hockey (and more specifically the Leafs even though they’re not in contention for the Stanley Cup).

When you look at the numbers for hockey games, however, you can see why basketball is getting the short end of the stick. The Star article said a Leafs-Flyers game last month drew 818,000 on Sportsnet and if you follow my ratings posts, you know Hockey Night in Canada regularly lands in the top programs in all of television for the week.

Raptors games are often moved to TSN2 where they pull in dreadful ratings (logo via WikiMedia)

According to the Star, however, the Raptors games in November averaged 145,000 on TSN and 45,000 on TSN2, down from the previous year’s average 177,000 for TSN and 78,000 on TSN2. Even the season opener was a disaster. The Toronto Sun reported it had a viewership of only 54,000 on TSN2, compare that to the Leafs on CBC’s 2.3 million, the Jays on Sportsnet’s 1.4 million and the Argos on TSN’s 673,000. Ouch.

The good news is that by January the Star reported TSN’s Raptors games averaged 240,000 viewers and four games in January averaged 268,000, with the average for the season being 197,000 up until that point. In comparison, Sportsnet was able to pull in 148,000.

Sportsnet royally screwed up the broadcast of a recent Raptors-Bucks game (logo via WikiMedia)

That slight uptick apparently doesn’t mean much for the sports networks. Sportsnet angered Raptors fans when the network cut the last ten seconds of a close Raptors game by going to commercial and then right to Sportsnet Connected. It got worse—Sportsnet Connected recapped the Raptors game, spoiling the ending, but perhaps even more insulting they shot past the Raptors coverage to cover the Leafs.

To make matters even worse, TSN and Sportsnet often push Raptors games to their secondary channels TSN2 and Sportsnet One despite the fact the Raptors seem to be on a roll is season. TSN2 and Sportsnet One don’t have as many subscribers as TSN and Sportsnet proper, which means fewer people are able to watch the televised games. A move from TSN to TSN2, for example, meant a loss of 100,000 viewers when averaging games last December.

However, with the Raptors making the playoffs, reports say ratings are up.  Yahoo! Sports reported that over the past weekend Friday’s Raptors at the Knicks pulled in 105,000 on TSN2 and Sunday’s Raptors at the Pistons had 176,000 on TSN. It’s still a far cry from Saturday’s Rangers-Habs and Leafs-Sens games on CBC that had 1,504,000 viewers.

 Here’s hoping the Raptors ratings are a slam-dunk during the playoffs so hopefully they get the respect from the networks they deserve next season.