THIS WEEK'S PICK | A TREND OF RECORD RATINGS
On Sunday night, Toronto sports fans were faced with a tough decision: Raptors Game 3 double overtime or the Game of Thrones series finale?
Looks like many chose to find out who would ultimately sit on the Iron Throne, as a record-breaking 19.3 million viewers tuned in, making it the episode the highest-watched telecast on HBO of all time. Accounting for delayed viewing, season eight averaged 44.2 million viewers per episode. For context, 11.9 million people tuned in when the final episode of The Sopranos aired in 2007.
In sports, the numbers are different but the trend is the same. The NBA has reported a viewership increase of 29% from 2018. The English Premier League's Championship Sunday drew an audience of 2.2 million, the highest number NBC has on record. And, this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs have also boasted the highest average number of viewers on record.
In Canada, the Raptors have captured an audience, with 3.8 million Canadians holding their breath as they waited for Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beater to drop. South of the border, however, the story is different. The Blazers-Warriors series continues to dominate, but the Raptors-Bucks series has failed to attract the attention of American viewers. Whereas 7.88 million Americans watched Game 2 of the Blazers-Warriors series, only 4.39 million watched the same game of the Eastern Conference finals (a 48% decrease since 2018). Even with exciting play and global ambassadors like Drake and Snoop Dogg, Toronto and Milwaukee have not managed to draw an audience like sibling phenoms Steph and Seth Curry did as they went head-to-head for the conference title in the West.
All in all, TV is alive and well. Both casual viewers and committed fans across leagues and shows have plenty of exciting content to watch and chat about with their friends and co-workers the next day. Team C&C will certainly be glued to our TVs for the remainder of the Raptors' playoff run!
CLIENTS IN THE NEWS
Kia Nurse had a strong pre-season with the New York Liberty, leading the team with an average of 17.3 points per game. The New York Liberty Home Opener will be played May 24 at the Westchester County Center.
Kate Beirness has been on the sidelines with the Toronto Raptors at every stage of their wild 2019 playoff ride. Click here to watch Kate's analysis of an exciting Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena on May 18.
Finally, Spartan Canada launched their 2019 season with a successful first weekend of races in Morin Heights, QC. Next up, Red Deer, AB on June 1!
GOING GLOBAL | ATHLETES' RIGHTS REMAIN A HOT TOPIC
2019 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for athletes' rights. We started the year with the formal organization of Global Athlete. Ground-breaking rulings from multiple governing bodies have followed, including concessions on Rule 40 for German athletes by the International Olympic Committee and the controversial decision made by the IAAF a few weeks ago to reject a challenge by Caster Semenya.
The past two weeks have also been full of developments. On Mother's Day, a spotlight was directed at major sponsors of female athletes and the role that pregnancy and maternity leave play in sponsorship contracts. Nike has since adjusted its position for both current and future athletes due to backlash. Athlete voices were a pivotal part of the Partnership for Clean Competition conference in London last week, driving conversations around clean sport. And on Monday, the official formation of the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association was announced.
With sports viewership rising and major events like the FIFA Women's World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the horizon, we are confident that the collective athlete voice will continue to grow. The global sport community will need to respond in innovative ways and we look forward to following these stories as they play out.