The TV ratings records for MLS in Canada set in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final did not last long.
Toronto FC’s return to BMO Field for the second half of their matchup with the Montreal Impact not only provided even more drama but also bigger numbers, with an average of 1.4 million viewers tuning in to TSN and RDS on Wednesday night, per a Bell Media release.
The bulk of the increase came from English-language viewers on TSN, which rose from a 595,000 average in the first leg to 862,000 this time. French-language RDS viewers went up from 429,000 to 519,000.
That marks a 35% increase from the Olympic Stadium game, with the total number of viewers tuning in for some portion of the match up from 3.6 million to 4.4 million.
All-Time record 1.4 Million viewers watched Toronto FC-Montreal Impact on TSN and RDS in Conference Final 2nd leg: https://t.co/5Gyg8wuG5d— Luke Wileman (@LukeWileman) December 1, 2016
I wrote about this after the first leg, but to repeat: These numbers mark a huge rise from the regular season and encapsulate the way in which this tie captured the interest of a much wider audience of Canadians than any previous event in MLS history. TFC’s regular-season games rarely reached a six-figure average viewership.
It will be interesting to see what the numbers look like for the MLS Cup final. It feels as if the Reds really have the city behind them at this stage, and obviously even more will be at stake when they meet the Seattle Sounders. On the other hand, they are likely to lose a large chunk of that 519,000 average RDS viewership.
For that reason, there might not be a great increase on the conference final figures - and that’s okay. Whatever happens, the 2016 postseason has represented a huge step forward in terms of the interest levels in Canada’s MLS clubs.