Which Is More Important -- Attendance or TV Viewership

I’ve been seeing lots of good ideas in various threads about how to help the CFL grow. However, a few of those solutions are at odds, such as whether it’s better to schedule fewer games on Thursdays (leading to better stadium attendance) or it’s better to schedule more games on Thursdays because the TV viewership is better.

The easy answer is “both,” but not very helpful. The stewards of the CFL ship have to make some decisions about which direction is best – more TV viewers (which would lead to more TV revenue in the next contract) or better stadium attendance (which would generate more direct revenue to the individual teams).

The hard part is deciding which way the league should go.

Your thoughts?

As expressed in more detail in other threads, when the CFL regains PRIMARY control of all scheduling, attendance stands the best chance to be improved so as to drive then TV ratings amongst the channel-flippers including kids.

Low angle camera shots for more games don’t fool television audiences any more like it’s still 1995.

The CFL has its opportunity at talks for the next TV and and internet coverage and rights agreement.

Do not allow TSN to call primarily more ruinous scheduling shots again.

So, attendance is more important than TV viewership, yes?

Yes attendance will drive more TV ratings. The reverse is not nearly the case if at all in some markets.

Attendance is more important in the present.

Viewership may become more important in the future.

But I agree with Paolo that strong attendance can have a positive effect on viewership. I’ll add, though, that the stadium plays a role there too. 25,000 in Edmonton won’t do much good for viewership, but 24,000 in Hamilton will.

I dunno…I think viewership represents the future of all professional sports. I also believe higher viewership will translate into higher attendance. A televised game is like a 2-hour commercial for the league. More eyes on TVs should mathematically result in more butts in seats.

I can share with you from my time living there that such is not the case at all in Florida with those NFL teams.

The weather was the most driving factor, but television ratings suffered as well.

For national games or night games, teams often buy up tickets and give them away for “sellouts.” Such happens often in other NFL markets when fans stop showing and is irrespective of TV ratings such as in NYC for the Jets.

The days of television blackouts finally were ended, but the lessons remain.

I see little or no evidence that higher ratings for a stadium half empty, such as when perhaps a good opponent shows, leads to higher attendance for other games.

We’re dealing beyond math here - overwhelmingly most people follow the herd and don’t think hardly in logical terms on this front either.

In addition, I don’t buy that fantasy sports and gambling drive attendance or ratings until the playoffs. Most such players hardly watch any more it seems. In a stadium, glued to cell phones all game, they are the worst.

whatever brings in more money

For the growth of the CFL, the more important thing is the TV viewership. For actual revenue, the more important thing is the stadium attendance. It’s sorta a chicken and egg scenario. More TV viewers will bring more people to the stadium (because more people are watching), and more people in the stadium can result in more TV viewers (full stadiums are more pleasing to see on TV, the league gets more money to hype up the games)

Empty stadiums in BC , Montreal and Toronto will do nothing to improve ratings on TV .

The atmosphere of the game for any pro sport is required .

Whether the stadium holds 5000 or 50000 it’s a barrier for many casual watchersto watch something that has so much inventory unsold and a low energy empty stadium watching the accomplishments of the sports entertainers .

It is a huge negative .

Filling the stadium is job number one . Getting the games on TV is much easier than ever before . The live sports event is king especially CanCON .

So right now filling the parks is way more important and the rest will follow .

Attendance increases when a local team captures the imagination of the greater public. When people who are not football fans want to take a look because everybody is talking about the team, that’s when the crowds swell.

You need an exciting product to stimulate attendance at games. The casual observer who tunes into to a televised game and witnesses a half empty park is going to imagine that the CFL is unpopular.

A guy who puts bums in seats. Chad Owens comes to mind, from a few years back. A game breaker.

Or some sensationally popular player that people want to go and watch.

With the CFLPA making it impossible for loose cannons and characters to eschew “the code”, we are left with a bland product.

Watching televised games won’t make you want to go to the stadium. It’s wanting to a part of something exciting that brings the non-football fan out when he normally doesn’t.

The CFL needs more real characters. Nik Lewis was part of a dying breed.

Great posts CFL Pete and Hank - it’s the same in any entertainment venue relying heavily on the disposable income of consumers directly via attendance and indirectly via advertising.

It’s no different throughout human history going back to gladiators and “prey.” Everyone pays more and more often to see heroes, villains, and drama.

The WWE folks even pay for it knowing fully that it is scripted and fake, and such deep desire of the crowds is the case as much when it’s not.

Seeing the heroes and villains live and seeing large, raucous crowds watching them drives TV ratings more too.

Attendance, easily! If they sold out the stadiums every game, teams wouldn’t need any more “fans” just watching on TV.


I think attendance.
Atmosphere is important. It makes the games more exciting both in the stadium and watching at home. It can make people think that this is worth following.

For me, if I hear that a game is sold out and people are still trying to get tickets, it adds excitement. If I know a million people are going to watch, I am interested, but nearly invested.

Either way, the CFL needs to find ways to maximize both.

I don’t think most gave voted yet, but it looks like 2 to 1 for attendance so far.

Yes, and I’m surprised.

I’m NOT a fan of the NFL, and yet they have been so darn successful that they warrant some analysis. One of the biggest things they’ve proven in the last 20 years is that TV revenue is WAY more valuable than individual stadium gate.

I just worry that in the CFL we continue to pursue an outdated model (ticket sales) that is on the decline, while TV revenue appears to have so much more value, particularly with Mr. Ambrosie’s CFL 2.0 program.

But Canada is different, with a different population and a different television system (TSN x 5). So I might very well be wrong. I hope so. 10 years from now I don’t want to be telling my grandson about “this great thing called CFL that’s gone now.”

Canada is indeed different. With only 11.33% of the population of the United States, TV revenues cannot be as significant relative to gate revenues in Canada.

Interesting though that gate receipt revenues in the NFL are now down below 16% of the total:


It’s also important not to ignore wide regional disparity, and though logistics are a challenge in larger cities, I don’t see why other markets cannot copy more of what is working in Edmonton and Regina.

For sake of the NFL TV model versus attendance, there is even wider regional disparity in my opinion.

Some of the extremes are Florida where few will sit out in a rain forest early in the season to the teams in the northeast and like Green Bay, Denver and Kansas City that have real sell-out crowds.

We note lower ratings for the NFL on TV especially out West and in the South.

Night games out West, for example, generally don’t sell out but for in Seattle or Denver and have lower TV ratings.

Part of the problem too is only 9 teams so only so many games to make money from and right now a monopoly owns the rights plus the major stakeholders in the Argos are both media moguls who have the Toronto / GTA wrapped around their finger with owning the centre of the universe teams .

Has this CFL 2.0 thing shown any value? The CFL social media team was quick to point out huge numbers of international page views and impressions during off season activities, but it’s been absolute silence since the season started. Did Randy’s proposed deals fizzle out, or are Meixcans maybe not as enthused about the CFL as he led us to believe.