Skip to main content

Half the time, I've no idea what's going on. None.

It will be the same next year, no doubt. And don't pretend to me that you know what's going on. Nobody does. It all changes. It was just the other day that the Ice Bucket Challenge was all the rage. It was mad. You could not escape it. Then it went away. At the time, my plan, if nominated, was to say nothing, grow a beard and change my name to Django Doyle. Just for a while.

I'm guessing there was a Top 10 list for best beards of 2014. And there must have been a Top 10 list of celebrities drenching themselves in cold water for a good cause. But we all probably needed a reminder what that cause was – it was ALS research.

It is the era of viral videos, selfie madness, petulant tweeting and people taking up online insult-spewing as a hobby, getting a full grip on the culture is a challenge.

No amount of year-end Top 10 lists can capture everything. In the popular culture in particular, so much coverage amounts to mere speculation.

And then there are the facts. Such as this – TV Top 10: What Canadians Watched in 2014. Not a list of what people thought was cool or what they meant to watch after they spent an hour sending anonymous insults online, or what someone told them to watch. But what Canadians watched in droves.

The list comes annually from CTV, which is part of Bell Media, which owns everything except the other crowd and the CBC. It's a great list, revealing what Canadians came to in large numbers and watched week after week, on all the channels.

Sports dominates the most-watched, single-event portion of the list. Super Bowl XLVIII was the most watched, with 7.9 million viewers. The Academy Awards came next, with 6.4 million. (Both on CTV.)

CBC takes up the next four spots, mostly with Sochi Olympics coverage (the men's hockey gold-medal game had 5.7 million, the closing ceremony had 4.3 million), but the actual No. 4 on the most-watched list was the soccer – the FIFA World Cup Final drew 4.9 million. Soccer, no less.

Hockey and Sochi events on CBC round out the Top 10.

Week after week, in regularly scheduled programs, The Amazing Race Canada (2.8 million) and The Big Bang Theory (2.7 million) edge out the competition. It has been a very competitive year, with newbie Gotham coming close to Big Bang numbers, at 2.6 million, then The Flash at 2.5 and NCIS: New Orleans at 2.4 million. How to Get Away with Murder landed with all cylinders going at 2.29 million. But it's interesting that long-running shows MasterChef and hoary old Grey's Anatomy are in the Top 10 at 2.27 and 2.17 million respectively.

Also, in Canadian programs, three stalwart CBC shows fill out the final three in the Top 10 – Murdoch Mysteries (898,000), Marketplace (772,000) and Dragons' Den (718,000).

What is startling is the numbers for specialty – that is, cable – channels, which sometimes outdo over-the-air channels for viewer numbers. The Walking Dead is the runaway winner, pulling in 1.3 million, while only available on the AMC channel. We adore our zombies and the ruthlessness of the narrative on that show. Vikings on History Television (it's not actual history, you know; we don't really know a lot about the Vikings) brings in 904,000 viewers. And Doctor Who is a huge cult hit on Space, bringing in 756,000.

The upshot is that we are predictable, reliably addicted to big-ticket sports, and weekly we cozy up with Leonard and Sheldon, Penny, Bernadette, Amy Farrah Fowler, Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali. The geekiness is what we want and what we crave is some Sheldon geek-weirdness. Sunday nights, we want marauding zombies. Perks us up for Mondays. That's us, who we are. Not that we can assume we know what's going on. Maybe it's only another list.

Airing tonight

New Year's Eve specials abound, with CBC having two, Air Farce: New Year's Eve 2014/15 (CBC, 8 p.m.) and Ron James: The Big Picture (CBC, 9 p.m.) in which "James gives his opinion on hockey vs. soccer, diets, the digital world and more." Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2015 (City, ABC, 8 p.m.) goes on for more than four hours. And Live from Lincoln Center: New York Philharmonic New Year's Eve, A Gershwin Celebration (PBS, 8 p.m.) is probably way more mellow. It's been a hard year.

All times ET. Check local listings.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct