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MLS Cup breaks new ground for Canadian TV viewership

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Sometimes, it’s nice to be wrong. Let’s face it, as Canadian soccer supporters, we have inherited the ability to prepare for worst-case scenarios for the sport that we love.

So, with that mentality, I thought that there was no way that Saturday’s MLS Cup could break the Canadian viewership records set by the second leg of the Eastern Conference final. Sure, MLS Cup had Toronto FC at home to Seattle, but it was on a Saturday, going toe-to-toe with Hockey Night in Canada and a UFC card. The midweek Montreal-Toronto FC games were of prime importance to two major Canadian markets — and didn’t have the same kind of sports-on-TV competition.

But I was wrong. TSN announced that the game, which saw the Sounders park the bus and hold on for a penalty-kick triumph over the Reds, drew 1.5 million viewers nationwide in both English and French. That broke the record of 1.4 million for the second leg of the Eastern Conference final.

The fact that MLS Cup was able to beat hockey on a Saturday night – well, that’s an impressive feat for a sport we’re used to seeing getting pre-empted by late-running curling matches.

Audience levels peaked at 11 p.m. ET with 2.7 million viewers as Sounders defender Román Torres slotted home his penalty kick to seal the victory for Seattle,” stated the release from TSN. “Overall, 4.2 million individual Canadians watched some part of Saturday night’s championship game on TSN and RDS.”

This has been a meteoric rise for MLS on Canadian TV. Earlier this year — as reported in Plastic Pitch issue 10 — audiences were as small as 34,000 for Toronto FC broadcasts on Sportsnet. Despite the fact TFC was enjoying its best season ever, it had zero profile outside of the city and couldn’t attract the interest of casual sports fans. To rise from 34,000 to 1.5 million in the same season, this would be like Wolf Eyes all of sudden rocketing up the Billboard charts.



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