Canadian sports landscape

I see various topics/posters suggesting how the CFL can reclaim the "glory days" of decades ago, with the comeback point being that the amount of sports now competing for viewers is much greater than it was.

So, my simple question is this, what's the popularity rankings for sports/leagues in Canada?

As far as I understand it, for a long while (until maybe mid-80s?) the CFL slotted in at #2 behind the NHL but was comfortably ahead of everything else. No Toronto Raptors, no Major League Soccer and I assume MLB support fluctuated with Toronto and Montreal's fortunes.

But now?

NHL obviously #1 still, but where does the CFL fit? For example, are the Raptors seen as "Canada's team" in basketball or is their fanbase specific to Toronto? Same question for the Blue Jays in baseball. Also, how much impact does MLS and the CPL have?

Obvious last comparison - the 4-down elephant in the room, how much coverage and attractiveness to fans does the NFL bring? Is the CFL seeing a generation of lost fans who 40 years ago would have supported Saskatchewan, Hamilton and the like now rooting for Green Bay and Kansas City?

NHL number one, NFL number 2, World Cup (sounds crazy but look at what happened in Edmonton), 3 Blue Jays, 4 Raptors, and 5 CFL. That's overall in Canada but the CFL is more popular in the prairies. Thankfully we can't count Pro Wrestling.

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take away GTA and do it again

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Take away GTA and CFL is above Blue Jays and Raptors I would think.

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me too, hopefully

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Where'd you get your numbers? Just read a survey report published on TSN that said 21% of Canadians followed CFL and 20 % followed NFL.

Oakville argos

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you don't even use facts do you. you just troll. Look at TV numbers some of your favorites don't even register

The lost generation of fans can be attributed to the CFL's blackout policy resulting in the league practically being invisible in Canada's largest market.

Combine that with fans leaving to the suburbs because they no longer afford to live in the larger city centres .

Among other things.

NHL is king over here, 9 million people in Canada in Superbowl, 50 thousand people went to Edmonton to watch a World Cup Qualifying match and an additional 2 million people watched it on TV. Blue Jays beat the CFL in ratings when they were in the playoff hunt. Raptors had a championship run a few years ago.

CFL gets half a million viewers during the regular season and 3.9 million for the Grey Cup. CFL took 2020 off because they are a gate driven league. None of those other leagues are gate driven because they can support themselves based on TV ratings.

The question was where did I see the CFL in the Canadian Landscape? Personally, I would rather watch a CFL game over any of the other leagues including hockey. It's not about me though. It's about what over 38 million people prefer from multiple backgrounds. If I was trolling people I would have listed cricket on there as well.


In three major markets which also have MLS teams those teams out perform the CFL in terms of attendance and support typically.

There was a good analysis done will see if I can find link that clearly showed that the MLS hurt the CFL in those markets in terms of $$$ spent by sports fans who shifted those $$$ from CFL to MLS.

So... after the King of Hockey which will likely never be dethroned who is number 2 is certainly open to some debate but also hard since there isn't really an apple to apples comparison.


I have a theory that the CPL is getting propped up as a nice, soft landing spot for Canada's trio of MLS clubs. MLS is the only league in that global sport that spans two Nations, which bugs Fifa and Concacaf. The CPL also has extremely favorable Champions League qualification compared to other second tier leagues such as the USL, even though the USL is much larger and more established. This really gets magnified when you look at the qualification for the expanded Champions League starting in 2024 where the CPL has two round 1 auto-bids.

As for MLB and NBA, they obviously lost a lot of ground when the Montreal Expos and Vancouver Grizzlies moved down to the States.

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I am a guy who grew up in Toronto. Have been an Argos fan since my youth. I currently live in Ottawa. I would like to share a few thoughts. The Argos were quite popular still right up until the mid 2000s when they won the Cup during the lockout huge parade huge celebration. I also think the TSN only deal has damaged the league. Why is t the Grey Cup on CTV? When games were in TSN and CBC it gave it more cache and a wider audience. So the up front money from TSN actually reduced the fan base. Additionally as others have pointed out the MLS came along and did a great marketing job towards youth. My son plays soccer and hockey doesn’t even think about football be it American or Canadian I don’t thing the NFL is growing the youth market here as well none of his or my teenage nephews friends even care about football. It’s hockey, soccer and basketball as those sports grew the youth and multicultural markets. Final point COVID has made all leagues gate revenues suffer. The sens here are suffering the. CPL team had low turnout and even the leafs had non sell outs. I think we need to give it a year to see if the gate revenues rebound a bit. I do agree the CFL need some vision and marketing and actually some care from the MLSs and OSEGs to market. A new tv deal on multiple networks is needed to draw more fans.

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