Not that we needed more things to celebrate after Saturday night’s historic Raptors win over the Bucks, but here’s one anyway. According to Rogers Sportsnet, Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the contest in which the Raptors clinched their first ever spot in the NBA Finals, is now the all-time most-watched basketball game in Canada.
#WeTheNorth continues to make history on @Sportsnet...@Raptors vs. #Bucks Game 6 is now the most-watched #NBA game ever in Canada— Sportsnet PR (@SportsnetPR) May 27, 2019
Reaching 6.8M viewers coast-to-coast, Game 6 captured a record-breaking avg audience of 3.1M Canadians
➡️ https://t.co/u8NTAvNggO pic.twitter.com/etNlT8lDFo
For those who perhaps can’t see the above embedded tweet, here are the numbers: a peak of 6.8 million people tuned in across Canada to watch some moment of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. On average, 3.1 million people hung in to watch Kawhi Leonard lead the Raptors to victory over the Bucks.
Obviously TV ratings in this day and age are a bit of a hard metric to track. We’ll never know how many people were watching the game through other means — in Jurassic Park, in bars and other public spaces across the country, [whispers] or via illegal online streaming — but still: this gives us a sense of just how popular the Raptors have become.
As the National Post’s Scott Stinson adds here, there’s something to be said for the massive jump in audience numbers compared to the next most popular basketball game of all-time. (Or we can view it through the proportional route Sportsnet’s Michael Grange takes here — and compare it to the finale of Game of Thrones.)
Sportsnet says audience for Raps-Bucks G6 averaged 3.1M, peaked at 5.1M. Record numbers. Also says series average of 2.1M was up 77% over conference finals in 2016.— Scott Stinson (@scott_stinson) May 27, 2019
Now, it shouldn’t come as a shock that fans — both diehard and casual — decided to tune into what was the biggest Raptors game in history. People love watching a great story like that. What’s more, given the recent dearth of Canadian cities involved in sports finals (unless they feature only Canadian teams, e.g. the Grey Cup also pulled in 3.1 million viewers), it’s no surprise that Canadians across the country wanted to check out a winner.
Nevertheless, that’s a lot of basketball fans. And it suggests once again: the game — and interest in the Raptors — continues to grow in Canada.