Super Bowl ‘juggernaut’ eclipsing Grey Cup in Canada
A decade ago, the CFL’s Grey Cup drew more Canadian viewers than the Super Bowl. Times have certainly changed as the NFL’s popularity grows.
By Curtis Rush, Sports reporter
The Toronto Star
February 3, 2015
Katy Perry performs during halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl, which drew about 9 million viewers in Canada. In comparison, last year's Grey Cup garnered about 4 million viewers in this country.
DAVID J. PHILLIP / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A decade ago, the Grey Cup drew more Canadian viewers than the Super Bowl.
In 2005, New England’s victory over Philadelphia drew 3.1 million viewers to Global Television in Canada, down from 3.56 million in 2004 and 4.2 million in 2003.
Meanwhile, Toronto’s Grey Cup victory over B.C. the previous November drew 4.012 million viewers on CBC.
How times have changed.
Now, the Super Bowl gets twice the Canadian audience that the CFL’s championship game gets.
The Grey Cup, with about 4 million Canadian viewers, remains among the most watched events in this country. The Super Bowl this past Sunday had an estimated 110 million viewers worldwide, and about 9 million in Canada.
“The NFL has really become a marketing juggernaut everywhere and the spillover into Canada has been quite astounding over the last decade,” said Bob Stellick, a sports marketing consultant who operates Stellick Marketing Communications in Toronto.
“The CFL has been a great television property for TSN,” Stellick said. “This is not indicative of a decline of the CFL.”
The Super Bowl made inroads in several ways and one was by appealing to younger audiences who have grown up playing video games and following stars such as Katy Perry, who put on a dazzling halftime show.
The CFL fell behind by not coming up with video games to compete with “Madden.”
“So there isn’t a generation of young Canadians who have grown up cheering for CFL stars online,” Stellick said.
CFL interim commissioner Jim Lawson attributed the success of the Super Bowl’s TV numbers to a “perfect storm” with the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks facing the big-market New England Patriots, with a 37-year-old quarterback in Tom Brady looking for his fourth Super Bowl ring.
“It was projected to be a great Super Bowl, and it was more than just hype,” Lawson said.
Lawson said that the TV numbers showed “that people are excited about football” and he believes the CFL will benefit from this growing popularity.