Take a look at this article I just pulled from CTV's news website:
[b]CFL ratings soar in absence of CBC announcers
CTV.ca News Staff
Ratings out for the second CFL game broadcast without on-air announcers suggest Canadian couch potatoes just may prefer the sound of silence.
An average of 580,000 fans, the largest audience this season, watched the B.C. Lions' 19-15 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.
Because of an ongoing labour dispute at the CBC, the public broadcaster has locked out 5,500 members of the Canadian Media Guild, leaving it without camera technicians, directors, announcers and commentators.
Without any on-air commentators, Saturday's game featured management-operated cameras and the lone voice of the Taylor Field public address announcer.
And still, the game attracted the CFL season's largest TV audience, marking the second consecutive weekend of above-average ratings.
The first broadcast without announcers on CBC drew 449,000 viewers for an Aug. 20 game between Edmonton and Toronto.
According to CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald, the number of viewers peaked at 746,000 in the fourth quarter and was well above the season average of 412,000.
Despite the prediction that frustrated viewers would turn off their TV sets without announcers, the audience grew as the game developed.
According to CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald, the number of viewers peaked at an amazing 746,000 near the game's conclusion.
Last week, Lions owner David Braley suggested CBC should not be included when the CFL conducts its next round of television contract talks, arguing the network is broadcasting an inferior product.
The CFL is in the third year of a five-year deal with CBC.
But MacDonald dismissed the suggestion that it was only the absence of on-air chatter that attracted more viewers.
"Certainly there's the matchup," he told The Canadian Press.
The Lions entered the game undefeated and Saskatchewan has a strong fan base across the nation.
"People were excited. There's probably also an element of novelty too still."
The labour dispute has forced the CBC to hand off the CFL's Labour Day Classic game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats to TSN.
The game will air Monday, Sept. 5, 2005 at 6 p.m. ET on TSN. Veteran broadcaster Chris Cuthbert and analyst Glen Suitor will front the TSN telecast from Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Instead of hosting a double-header, CBC will now only show Edmonton at Calgary.
"It was a resources issue," said MacDonald.
"We're doing this with a management crew. It made sense to do one."
There is no word yet on whether TSN will take on more CFL games.
"We're still week by week," MacDonald said.
The sky-high ratings have some observers wondering whether networks will take the opportunity to take on-air talent off the payroll.
But Cuthbert dismissed the suggestion, arguing that sports fans still prefer to have someone tell them what is going on.
"If they were doing that and there was also a channel with commentary of the same feed, I really don't believe very many people would be watching the non-commentary feed," he told the Toronto Star.
"It has all of us thinking a little bit on what's the right amount, but I'm not a believer yet."[/b]
I wonder if the big ratings spike is coincidental or not? I'd be interested in seeing a feed with announcers and one without at the same time and see which attracts more viewers.
I for one actually don't mind the absence of the announcers - besides the questionable camera work, it almost felt like being at the game.