Project Canada 2016 Sports Survey

Interest in NHL wanes while Blue Jays creating new followers, survey shows
Chris Zelkovich Eh Game April 8/2016

As a rule, a team's following generally increases with winning and declines with losing.

According to a new survey, that is the case with Canada's NHL teams and the Toronto Blue Jays. But the Toronto Raptors and Canada's Major League Soccer teams are not benefitting at all from success on the court and on the pitch.

The poll, completed by Project Canada Surveys, shows that NHL interest among Canadians has dropped from to 40 per cent who said they followed it very closely" or closely" as all seven Canadian-based teams failed to make the playoffs this year. That's down from the level of 46 per cent that has remained steady since the last lockout ended in 2013.

The poll of 1,500 Canadians was conducted by University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby on April 1-2.

It also shows:

Flagging interest in the NHL is most pronounced in Montreal and Vancouver, with fan bases in the other cities not noticeably affected by their teams' poor performance. This mirrors an Angus Reid poll showing that 54 per cent of those polled plan to watch less post-season action this year.

Interest in Major League Baseball has risen dramatically from 35 to 49 per cent in Toronto thanks to the Blue Jays, but only 25 per cent of Canadians follow the sport. "Defying the claim that the Jays are 'Canada’s Team,' the interest level in baseball in the rest of the country has not increased from what it was a year ago," Bibby noted.

Despite their third straight NBA division championship, the Raptors have seen their following in Toronto drop from 29 to 28 per cent. Nationally, they've barely made a dent in the minds of Canadians, with interest static at 12 per cent.

Interest in the Canadian Football League has dropped slightly, from 26 to 24 per cent, but remains ahead of the NFL (22 per cent), which saw its following drop by one percentage point.

Interest in the MLS remains stuck at the 2013 level of 9 per cent nationally. The Vancouver Whitecaps are drawing the most interest (18 per cent) in their home city, while Toronto and Montreal have a following of 13 per cent at home.

Compared with the NFL, the CFL has similar numbers of fans under the age of 55, but it has a greater following among adults 55 and older. NBA and MLS fans are disproportionately young, creating hope for more growth in the future.

Not surprisingly, the CFL has its strongest following in the west (with a high of 47 per in Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and weakest in the east (with only 9 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 19 per cent in Quebec and 20 per cent in Ontario.)

The survey's findings jibe with television ratings. Audiences for the NHL are down 16 per cent across the country this season while Blue Jays ratings are breaking records.

Toronto loves the Blue Jays, but other Canadians just aren’t that into them
Peter Hadzipetros National Online Journalist Global News April 8

Marcus Stroman might be onto something. The Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher says Toronto is a baseball city.

Stroman made the comment in The Players’ Tribune, an online forum founded by former New York Yankee star Derek Jeter to connect professional athletes with fans.

A new poll suggests Stroman might be right. At least when it comes to Toronto.

The Project Canada 2016 Sports Survey – carried out by sociologist and trend-tracker Dr. Reginald Bibby of the University of Lethbridge – found that 49 per cent of Toronto sports fans “very closely? or “fairly closely? follow the Blue Jays. That’s up from 35 per cent last season, when the Jays caught fire in the middle of the season and made the post-season for the first time since they won back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993.

While the Jays are the sports focus in Toronto, the numbers suggest they are far from Canada’s team.

On a national level, the Blue Jays are closely followed by 25 per cent of people surveyed, barely ahead of those who follow the Canadian Football League. Outside of Ontario, fewer than 20 per cent of people surveyed said they followed baseball.

Torontonians prefer baseball to hockey

And it suggests that the Blue Jays are now more popular than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The survey found that hockey interest in Toronto dipped marginally from 44 per cent last season to 43 per cent this year, well behind the numbers recorded for baseball’s Blue Jays. Toronto’s hockey support has barely budged even though the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since Lester Pearson was prime minister. The Maple Leafs have appeared in the playoffs only once since the 2003-04 season.

Overall, the survey suggests that in a year that all seven of Canada’s teams were shut out of the playoffs, fewer Canadians are following the NHL than they were three years ago – but the sport is still king when it comes to fan support.

The survey found that the proportion of Canadians following the NHL has slipped to 40 per cent from 46 since 2013.

Disenchantment with hockey was highest in Montreal and Vancouver.

Last year, 51 per cent of people surveyed said they followed the Montreal Canadiens. This year, that’s fallen to 39 per cent. The Canadiens had their best start to a season ever this year, winning their first nine games. But they faded quickly after star goaltender Carey Price suffered an injury in late November. He missed the rest of the season. The Canadiens have not won a championship since the 1992-93 season.

In Vancouver, 49 per cent of people surveyed said they followed the Canucks last year. This year, that fell to 40 per cent. Vancouver has never won a league championship but the team has made it to the finals three times since joining the league in the 1970-71 season.

The survey also found that the die-hard fan bases in other NHL cities have hardly been affected. In Alberta interest fell from 48 per cent last year to 41 per cent this year. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, support went up from 38 per cent in 2015 to 45 per cent this year.

Other Toronto sports teams not too popular outside Ontario

The survey also found that – outside Toronto – the Raptors of the National Basketball Association are followed by about 12 per cent of people surveyed. Despite three consecutive division championships, the team scores well behind the Blue Jays and Leafs in fan support in the Toronto market at 28 per cent.

Major League Soccer trails the pack with nine per cent of those surveyed saying they follow the league’s three Canadian teams: the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps.

The survey also found that – by far – men are more likely to follow men’s professional sports than women, usually by a ratio of two to one. However, when it comes to football, that ratio increases to three to one.

The Project Canada 2016 Sports Survey was carried out online April 1-2. A total of 1,509 people were surveyed online. A probability sample of this size carries an error range nationally of +/- three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Project Canada 2016 Sports Survey Press Release

Those numbers seem about right - for Southern Ontario at least from my experience. Huge interest right now in the surging Jays (heading to their sold out game today myself) - up near 50% in these parts with the CFL doing OK near 20% - and those numbers more or less reversed in some areas out west. Hockey in a bit of a lull but still quite strong inspite of all the Canadian teams being lousy. Those numbers all make sense to me.

If the Raptors win a series or two in the playoffs will that move the needle a bit for that sport?. And what will it take for the MLS to break through - or is that 9% range going to be its ceiling for awhile?

And of course the BIG question that we are all waiting for the answer to - How much will Tannen-Bell and the move to BMO help move the numbers up beyond 20% for the CFL in these parts.

The Leafs are dead last so it's no surprise that their popularity's down.
Jay's are seen as potential champions so of course interest is high. Trust me, if the Leafs were gunning for a cup right now, interest would be off the charts. If the Argos were seen as the best bet for a Grey Cup I'm not sure that their popularity would exactly soar. The perception of the CFL as second rate in Toronto is very strong as we all know.
I wish the league would promote the Grey Cup a lot harder as Canada's national championship, make bragging rights more important to Canadians right across Canada.
The Stanley Cup is the holy grail to Canadians and the CFL needs to make winning the Grey Cup equally important.

Not surprisingly, the CFL has its strongest following in the west (with a high of 47 per in Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and weakest in the east (with only 9 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 19 per cent in Quebec and 20 per cent in Ontario.)
I am sure that the TV ratings too reflect that percentage in the survey. 20% in Ontario follow the CFL? the average CFL game attracted around 600k last year therefore there would be around 120k in Ontario watching and I would guess that in the GTA there would be one quarter of that watching a CFL game or maybe 30k.

Every year the CFL is very popular in the annual survey.
Not to the liking of the ad agencies and corporate TV execs here in Toronto.
Who despite this do their best to keep the league down in the B category or second rate status to the American sports.
I would like to fire every one of these clowns.

Please, if you're going to keep posting these niggling jabs at the CFL at least be realistic.

As I have stated many times, and I will once again for you, (as you keep trying to ignore it), Commish Cohon said in his last state of the league address that 50% of the viewers of an Argos game are from Ontario. So using your 600k example that would be 300k and you end up with a number of 30k from the GTA. C'mon get real!

So next I'll be hearing that Cohon made that up. I'll now tell you why he didn't. Sponsors have the ratings book they'd know if he was lying and if he was they'd want to revisit their deals. Why would he do that and destroy his credibility and that of his office, again defying credulity.

When I first read it I thought they made perfect sense

I consider the Raps and Jays playoff runs as "event" television (numbers that get bigger but return to their former status as the wins disappear)

I can't see any MLS team really breaking through nationally for a few reasons. One is, the three teams break up the national market, none of which can be seen rightly or wrongly as "Canada's team". The other reason is the meaninglessness of the MLS Cup. It just doesn't resonate as a championship to care about if you are not an MLS fan.

Thirdly like the CFL and NFL there is a large contingent of soccer fans who will never care for the MLS, they could survey and find large numbers of soccer fans but many won't be fans of MLS owing their allegiances to auld country leagues, the big daddy EPL or just following the Champions League. Just like the CFL will never get some NFL fans, MLS will never get a large portion of the fragmented soccer market.

I truly believe how the Argos go so will the league. If the Argos can get 25k per game I think you'll see the league do well. If they (Argos) continue the trend of the last few years I think the league will also reflect another non growth year. The last two CFL seasons haven't been bad but they haven't been anything to celebrate either.

One positive aspect will be the upcoming rule changes. I think they will definitely improve and speed up the game. Personally I never had a problem with penalty calls the last few years and I think it's a joke the people who bitch about it. I think they just read an article discussing it and assume that's the stand to take.

Why didn't they do this survey when all the sports are playing and on peoples minds. No they do when only one sports league is not playing, and that folks is.... you guessed it the CFL! So I don't think this is truly accurate. When all the other leagues are now playing and in the news. If they did it in late May or early June, I would put more stock in it because all the leagues are in either pre-season, regular season ,or play-off play. IMHO

I think it's accurate and I'm a CFL booster. Realistically the last two years the league has been in a lull but as I stated above I think the Argos will be the bellwether for the next few years. Not so much in any kind of numbers sense but more as a hopefully feel good vibe spreading over the league. And unfortunately that vibe has to be shoved right in the face of a notoriously anti Argo local media whose ignorance unfortunately has a large spread and maybe they might get the message.


You are right, it's the same survey in the winter time just after the Super Bowl.

I wouldn't put much stock in a survey anyway. What's the point? the only measurement that is important CFL teams is attendance at games. The fact that over 30k a game in Sask, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg, tells you what we already know that the CFL is popular in the West.
The fact that 13k or 17k ?? in Toronto attend games tells you that there isn't much interest in the CFL in Toronto.
The fact that there has been no rush for Argo season tickets at BMO proves that too.
The CFL is a gate driven league and to survive it needs "bums in seats" that not only buy tickets but spend a lot of money on concessions.

Seriously, are you a red patch whiner?

Slim is a closet TFC fan, me thinks.

By most of his posts, I think he's outta the closet.

I've been on these Internet boards for a long, long time and think I am able to distinguish between being a devil's advocate and trolling. Ol' Slim's posts seem to lean one way more than the other.

yes nothing wrong with being a TFC fan, even though I'm not, I don't have to be in the closet though.
Oh yes the troll thing, if you upset people with an opinion that they disagree with then of course you are a troll :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Besides I call em as I see em, just because I say that Torontonians are not CFL fans doesn't mean that I don't like the CFL or that I love TFC.
I love the way some people will twist these surveys, for instance they say that 20 percent in Ontario follow the CFL (not my figures) in Toronto it's something like 5%, that is a tiny interest in the CFL in Toronto. I would imagine that the CFL TV ratings IN TORONTO are much lower than the TFC TV ratings IN TORONTO. The CFL ratings are driven by viewers outside of Toronto.
Do some research guys, TFC is more popular in Toronto than the Argos. Yes the MLS is not popular nationally.

I have been a critic of TORONTONIANS that make excuses to not attend Argo games, I don't believe they have sold anywhere near 15k as an Argo fan tried to start on these boards.
I don't think they have sold much more than last year - sorry but is that anti-CFL???
Toronto is just not a CFL town, maybe I will be proven wrong after this season at BMO.

The survey has just given you the research and yet your RPB bias won't allow you to register the facts. You say people twist surveys and yet you proceed to do it in your next sentence. You are trolling now and that is very sad that you feel the need to do that.

When confronted with third party facts (not my opinion) to counter your misinformed opinions, you always disappeared and never responded, now we all know why.

I have no problem with people having a different opinion than mine or them proving a point with actual evidence, you have never done that. You've only provided your opinion and when corrected with facts you keep ignoring that you have been corrected time and again.

Your "credibility" posting here is now zero and the "gems" above have proved it, if indeed your past posts haven't.
At this point many would say they were finished dealing with you, but I won't because some new poster might come here and believe some of your made up garbage, if it wasn't corrected. So troll on, my friend, be happy you're out of the closet.