Bibby survey good news for Canadian Football League

University of Lethbridge sociologist Dr. Reg Bibby has released the results of his latest survey and its good news for the Canadian Football League.

Bibby and Vision Critical contacted more than 4,000 Canadians and 4,000 Americans regarding their interest in select professional sports and the Canadian Football League is continuing to trend upwards.

The survey found that 26 per cent of people across Canada follow the CFL very closely or fairly closely, a figure that is slightly higher than interest in the National Football League (23 per cent) and trails only the National Hockey League (46 per cent). Interest in Major League baseball checks in fourth at 22 per cent, followed by the National Basketball Association (12 per cent) and Major League Soccer (9 per cent).

“Despite the massive exposure that other sports and leagues receive from both sides of the border, the CFL has been able to hold its own – something of a cultural miracle,” says Bibby in a Project Canada Surveys news release. “Many other corporate and cultural things Canadian have not been able to withstand the might of American competition.”

Over the past 25 years, Canadian interest in the CFL has increased substantially, from 16 to 26 per cent since 1990.

What was most surprising to Bibby was the twin survey conducted south of the border that showed CFL interest was also growing rapidly in the United States, and specifically in the younger fan demographic.

The U.S. survey found that 10 per cent of Americans say they are following the CFL, and that is led by 22 per cent of adults under the age of 35. Only about 5 per cent of Americans over 35 consider themselves as followers of the CFL. Bibby credits the rise of the Internet.

“The league is finally visible,” he says. “For the first time in history, Americans who want to follow many of their favourite college players who are playing in Canada can readily do so by going online.”

Bibby adds that the findings show the CFL continues to know considerable vitality and that further exposure can only create greater opportunity for growth.

“The league is now on the verge of an unexpected and extraordinary opportunity to increase its brand exposure well beyond Canada.”

The surveys of 4,022 Canadians and 4,079 Americans was designed by Bibby and carried out online by Vision Critical in mid-February 2015. A probability sample of this size carries an error range nationally of about 2 per cent either way, 19 times in 20.