Which TV Programs Have Canadians Watched Most in Past 10 Years?

By Jeff Parker
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

There is so much content spread across so many platforms in a modern world of media saturation. It seems like a new streaming service is announced every day, and not falling behind on all the TV shows your friends are recommending can feel like a 2023 version of “keeping up with the Joneses.”

But with so much variety available on our screens, we wanted to know: Which television events are the most Canadians tuned into?

To figure that out, OntarioBets.com – your home for the best guide to Ontario sportsbook apps – used ratings data from Wikipedia for the 10-year period between 2013 and 2022 to determine which TV broadcasts have garnered the most eyeballs on average over the past decade.

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How We Calculated Our Numbers

We used the 10 most-watched TV programs or events from each year in the 10-year time span. In cases where there were multiple broadcasts in a single year — i.e. different events from the same Summer Olympics or multiple episodes from the same series — we opted to use the instance with the highest viewership from that year.

Averaging out the results over a 10-year period, here are Canada’s most watched TV shows (among those in the top 10 for a particular year). You can also learn more about Ontario gambling apps with us.

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Most-Watched Television Programs in Canada

Rank Program Avg. Viewers
1 Super Bowl 7.482 million
2 Olympics 7.03 million
3 Stanley Cup playoffs 5.44 million
T4 NBA playoffs 5.3 million
T4 FIFA World Cup 5.3 million
T4 Oscars 5.3 million
7 MLB playoffs 5.15 million
8 IIHF World Junior Championships 5.05 million
9 Bye Bye (New Year’s Special) 4.698 million
10 The Big Bang Theory 4.69 million
11 Grey Cup 4.05 million
12 Infoman (New Year’s Special) 3.3 million

Sporting Events Rule Canadian Airwaves

Clearly, nothing gets Canadians in front of the tube like a high-stakes sporting event.

Ranked at the top, the Super Bowl has been the most watched television event in Canada for six of the past 10 years. Canadians cannot view the same ads as Americans, for the “Big Game” but the NFL’s annual showcase is must-see TV for Canadian sports fans.

It’s also the only sporting event on the list drawing ratings without a clear Canadian connection. Even without that, the NFL is not only a bonanza for television viewing, it is also big business for Ontario sports betting operators.

The Olympic events continue to draw huge numbers, but viewership of the Winter Games has declined since 2014 — the last year the NHL allowed its players to compete. Nevertheless, the women’s hockey gold medal game between Canada and United States at the 2018 Winter Games was the third-most watched event of the year. The Olympic ice dance final – where Canadian pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold – was the most watched.

Not surprisingly, hockey is well represented throughout ratings.

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NHL, NBA, MLB All Big Draws During Playoffs

The third most watched event is the Stanley Cup playoffs, with all four of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first-round game 7 losses (2013, 2018, 2021 and 2022) scoring as the most watched NHL playoff game in Canada that year. Imagine the ratings if they actually made it to the Cup final? Check out our Stanley Cup odds tracker to see what sportsbook operators think of their chances.

Two Toronto franchises that had more postseason success boosted playoff viewership for other major sporting leagues in Canada.

In 2015, the Blue Jays made the American League Championship Series before losing to the Kansas City Royals. And, of course, in 2019 the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals. The championship-clinching Game 6 was the most viewed television program of the year.

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Some Non-Sporting Events Score Well

In terms of non-sporting events, the Academy Awards have been a mainstay among programs in Canada for the past decade, only failing once to crack the top 10 highest-rated broadcasts in a year. That was in 2021, which was almost certainly a result of the pandemic’s impact on the movie business the prior year.

Canadians have also had quite the love affair with the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” over the past decade. During its 12-season run, it routinely ranked among the top 10 most-watched series in country. The peak was when 5.8 million viewers tuned in for the series finale in 2019.

Finally, two French Canadian New Year specials are included in the list. For those in English Canada that may be wondering, “Bye Bye” is an annual comedy special that began airing every New Year’s Eve on Radio-Canada in 1968. In more recent years, the satirical news series “Infoman” has aired its own New Year’s special in the time slot preceding “Bye Bye.” Both shows have become something of tradition for Quebecers on Dec. 31.

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Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker is an entertainment writer for OntarioBets.com. A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with a Masters Degree in Popular Culture. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he works full time as documentary filmmaker and producer.

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