Sports are an integral part of life in Canada, with some of the most dedicated supporters in North America, be it hockey, football or soccer. And while some teams face off across the border in America, the Canadian leagues certainly rival them in terms of competitiveness.
But which sports teams are attracting the most popularity across Canada? We analyzed Google search information, social media data, and online sentiment to rank the top 20 Canadian franchises by popularity.
Toronto teams take the top spots
In winning the title of Canada’s most popular sports team, the Toronto Raptors take home an index of 8.45. The Raptors joined the NBA in 1995 as part of the league’s expansion and won their first league title in 2019.
In second place with an index of 7.28 we have the MLB Toronto Blue Jays, who hold two World Series titles won back-to-back between 1992-1993. Interestingly, the Raptors and Jays are the only representatives of their respective sports, as this list compiled above is dominated by football and hockey.
When it comes to hockey, 13-time Stanley Cup champions, the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs are considered the third most popular sports team in Canada, with an index of 5.53.
Six NHL franchises make the top 10
Following the lead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, we have five other NHL franchises in the top 10 most popular Canadian sports teams.
Well placed, the Montreal Canadiens come away with an overall rating of 3.59, which is hardly surprising given that they hold a record of 24 Stanley Cups to their name. Other hockey teams to carve out a niche in the Top 10 Franchisees are the Vancouver Canucks (2.69), Edmonton Oilers (2.47), Winnipeg Jets (1.90) and Ottawa Senators (1.87). Meanwhile, narrowly missing out on top-10 glory, the Calgary Flames are 11th overall with a rating of 1.66.
Nearly Half of Top 20 Teams Are CFL Franchises
While hockey might dominate the top 10, football is the main contributor when extended to the top 20; with eight CFL teams, that’s almost half of the overall roster.
Becoming the highest rated football team and also the highest ranked team to play in a Canada based league, we have the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a popularity score of 3.14. The Bombers last won the Gray Cup in 2019 and hold the record for most championship appearances (25).
Not far behind we have the CFL Toronto Argonauts (2.02), who have won more Gray Cups than any other competing team (17). Then the Hamilton Tiger-Cats also rank very well with a 1.62 popularity rating, despite having the longest Gray Cup drought in the entire CFL. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1.60) are the fourth most popular football team, despite being based in the smallest major league market in Canada.
Rounding out the CFL teams we have the Vancouver BC Lions (1.60), the 14-time Gray Cup winners Edmonton Elks (1.00), the Montreal Alouettes (0.89) and the the 2018 Gray Cup Calgary Stampeders (0.83).
There is room for football in the top 20
Rounding out the top 20 most popular sports teams in Canada, we have three franchises that participate in Major League Soccer. The top-ranked soccer team, the Vancouver Whitecaps, scores a total of 1.08, while CF Montreal, founded just 11 years ago, scores 0.86.
Finally, Toronto FC is the 20th team in our index with an overall score of 0.73. Although they may be the lowest ranked MLS team in terms of popularity, Toronto FC are the most successful on the soccer field. In fact, they’re the only Canadian team to make an MLS Cup final, a feat they’ve achieved three times – winning once.
To determine the most popular sports teams in Canada, we took into account Google search volumes, Instagram engagements, Twitter engagements, and online sentiment for each franchise. Google search volume for each team has been recorded over the past 12 months, and the total for each franchise has been ranked and given a relative index score between 0 and 1.
Four Twitter metrics were analyzed (number of followers, retweets, favorites, and engagement rate) for each team, and franchises were ranked and received a relative index score between 0 and 1 for each (giving a total Twitter score from 0 to 4).
Likewise, four Instagram metrics were analyzed (number of subscribers, average likes, average comments and engagement rate). As before, the franchises were ranked and received a relative index score between 0 and 1 for each (giving a total Instagram score of 0 to 4).
Finally, thanks to the Linkfluence social listening tool, we were able to collect online sentiment data for each team. Each franchise was ranked based on its positive sentiment and was assigned a relative index score between 0 and 1. All index scores were eventually combined to give a total score between 0 and 10 for. each Canadian sports team analyzed.
Discover even more expert perspectives on the world of Canadian sports, or explore the latest odds and picks from your favorite teams.