With Sportsnet coming off a big year thanks more to the Blue Jays exciting playoff run than their pricey NHL deal, TSN needed a deep run from Team Canada at the World Juniors to get back in the sports network ratings game,
Unfortunately, the Canadian junior squad got bounced far earlier than most experts would have predicted. As a result, TSN lost out on a potential six million viewer payoff. One year ago, on Jan. 5, 2015, 5.96 million viewers tuned to TSN for Canada’s Gold Medal win over Russia at the IIHF World Junior Championship.
This year at the IIHF, the biggest TV draw came early, with Canada/USA pulling 2,594,000 overnight, estimated viewers Dec. 26–easily the most-watched show in Canada on that otherwise quiet night. The Saturday HNiC game the same night between Montreal and Washington, for example, did just 941,000.
That early junior loss by Canada likely dampened expectations. Denmark/Canada on the 28th drew just 1,284,000 for an early afternoon tilt. The next day, Canada/Switzerland pulled 1,464,000 overnight, estimated viewers.
UPDATE: Canada’s loss to Sweden Dec. 31 drew 1,537,000 in overnights. That same day, the Canadiens/Bruins outdoor winter classic drew 1,299,000 on Sportsnet.
2ND UPDATE: Finland eliminated Canada in the quarter finals on Jan. 2 before 2,233,000 TSN viewers.
Non-Canada IIHF games found even fewer fans. Russia/Belarus the morning of the 29th did just 200,000 on TSN. The Bronze medal game on the morning of Jan. 5 drew just 271,000 who saw the USA beat Sweden. Later that day, the Gold medal tilt won by Finland over Russia pulled an overnight, estimated 637,000–about one-tenth what a Canadian Gold game might have drawn.