When Rogers wrote a cheque for $5 billion and mortgaged its future to secure the NHL's national broadcast package, the corporate giant was counting on hockey to thrust Sportsnet to the top of the Canadian sports TV world.
The Toronto Blue Jays weren't even an afterthought at that time. They weren't a thought at all.
But now it's the Jays driving Sportsnet to the top of the heap -- and there's more to come thanks to Wednesday's dramatic victory in the American League Division Series.
In the first four games of their series with Texas, the Jays produced an average audience of 3.3 million viewers for Sportsnet and gave the channel its top four ratings ever. Sunday's Game 3 averaged 4.17 million -- a Sportsnet record.
That record lasted less than 24 hours as Monday's game produced an average of 4.38 million. And based on what happened Wednesday, that record likely will fall when the numbers come in Thursday.
How big are these ratings? The first Hockey Night in Canada broadcast averaged less than half of Monday's game, and that wasn't a bad night for the NHL.
In addition, no Stanley Cup playoff game topped the 4-million mark last spring. In fact, the only hockey game that surpassed 4 million this year was the World Junior Hockey Championship final, which averaged 6-million viewers.
The numbers should continue to rise considering how many people are catching Blue Jays fever. A total of 9.5 million people watched some or all of Monday's game, meaning a lot more non-baseball fans are starting to take notice.
A trip to the World Series should threaten that world junior mark.
Here are the most-watched English-language sports events from the past long weekend, according to Numeris overnight ratings:
1. MLB, Blue Jays at Rangers, Monday, Sportsnet: 4,380,000
2. MLB, Blue Jays at Rangers, Sunday, Sportsnet: 4,170,000
3. MLB, Rangers at Blue Jays, Friday, Sportsnet: 2,400,000
4. NHL, Habs-Bruins/Leafs-Sens/Oilers-Preds, Saturday, CBC-Sportsnet: 2,100,000
5. NFL, Cowboys-Pats/Cards-Lions, Sunday, CTV-TSN: 970,000
6. NHL, Flames at Canucks, Saturday, CBC: 961,000
7. NFL, Bills-Titans/Seahawks-Bengals/Rams-Packers/Bears-Chiefs, Sunday, CTV: 813,000
8. NHL, Maple Leafs at Red Wings, Friday, Sportsnet One: 587,000
9. CFL, Eskimos at Stampeders, Saturday, TSN: 545,000
10. CFL, Roughriders at Ticats, Friday, TSN: 463,000
11. CFL, Blue Bombers at Lions, Saturday, TSN: 445,000
12. CFL, Argos at Alouettes, Monday, TSN: 431,000
13. MLB, Astros at Royals, Friday, Sportsnet: 386,000
14. NFL, Steelers at Chargers, Monday, TSN: 383,000
15. NHL, Canadiens at Senators, Sunday, Sportsnet One: 372,000
16. MLB, Mets at Dodgers, Friday, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One: 290,000
17. NFL, Niners at Giants, Sunday, TSN: 244,000 (NBC viewers not measured)
18. Rugby World Cup, Australia vs. Wales, Saturday, TSN: 241,000
19. MLB, Cubs at Cardinals, Saturday, Sportsnet One: 227,000
20. NHL, Lightning at Sabres, Saturday, Sportsnet: 226,000
'21. Rugby World Cup, Samoa vs. Scotland, Saturday, TSN: 222,000
22. Auto racing, Russian Grand Prix, Sunday, TSN: 197,000
23. Auto racing, NASCAR Bank of America 500, Sunday, TSN: 182,000
24. MLB, Mets at Dodgers, Saturday, Sportsnet: 175,000
25. Auto racing, F1 Russian Grand Prix qualifying, Saturday, TSN: 163,000
THREE TO WATCH
Jay days: It might be tough to match the drama, excitement and sheer insanity of the ALCS, but as Game 5 proved, anything is possible. The Jays open the ALDS Friday in Kansas City (7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet.)
Non-political scrums: The Rugby World Cup gets down to the short strokes this weekend with the quarterfinals. South Africa and Wales kick things off Saturday (10:45 a.m. ET, TSN.)
Battle of Alberta, redux: Last week, it was the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos butting heads and this week the Alberta thing continues in hockey. The Oilers visit the Flames on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, CBC.)