Saturday, March 31, 2007

The NHL Outdraws the NBA

You wouldn't realize it based on exposure from ESPN or other national outlets, but the NBA's ratings aren't much more impressive than the much maligned NHL ratings. In fact, William Houston from The Globe And Mail reports that the NHL on NBC drew more viewers than the NBA on ABC on Sunday, March 25th:

Each network earned a 1.0 rating (percentage of households tuned in), but NBC pulled in a larger audience share (percentage of time that people spent watching the telecast), 3 compared with 2. In total viewership, NBC outdrew ABC 1.31 million to 1.26 million.

Granted, the NBA game was running against college basketball, but it's also important to note that the NHL only has 24 league markets that are factored into the ratings whereas the NBA has 29. Obviously, cities with teams are much more likely to tune in as is evidenced by paltry NBA ratings in Buffalo.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

CBC and NBC Extend NHL Deals

The NHL announced extensions with their national television broadcast networks in both Canada and the United States. The CBC deal is believed to be worth $85 million USD meaning each team will receive roughly an extra million dollars in shared revenue more than under the old deal. Financial details of the NBC package were not available. Some highlights:

Despite paying more, the CBC is getting slightly less. It will air fewer Maple Leafs games in the regular season, 23 compared with the current 28. In the playoffs, the CBC will own the rights to the first two series involving Canadian teams. But if there's a third, it will go to TSN. In the current deal, the CBC owns all Canadian series rights. Although TSN's new cable deal with the NHL is not completed, it appears to have achieved its two main goals: more regular-season Leafs games nationally and additional Canadian content in the postseason.

NBC will be able to select from a minimum of three games scheduled on Sunday afternoons. Thirteen days prior to the scheduled games, NBC, in conjunction with the NHL, will select one of those games as the "Game of the Week" to be broadcast during the NBC window. The other two games will revert back to the team's regional carrier (not to be televised during NBC's broadcast window).

Four Sabres/Leafs tilts were featured nationally on Hockey Night in Canada this year and the season finale against the Flyers will be covered by NBC.

Friday, March 23, 2007

That Didn't Last Long

The regular season ratings record on Versus falls in just one week. From Kuklas Korner:

Versus earned a 0.4 cable Nielsen rating for Monday night’s Rangers-Penguins game, making it the most-watched NHL regular-season telecast ever for the network and the biggest Monday 7:00-9:45pm ET slot ever outside of the NHL playoffs and Tour de France. Versus earned a 0.9 in N.Y., its highest ever for that market, and a 6.1 in Pittsburgh.

It was a nearly identical figure, but a new record nonetheless.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sabres/Pens Garners Record Ratings

The Penguins shootout victory over the Sabres on Tuesday (March 13th) that was shown on Versus drew a record audience. An e-mail from the NHL:

Tuesday’s Buffalo at Pittsburgh game on VERSUS posted a .41 national household cable rating, garnering 394,678 viewers. The telecast not only was the highest-rated NHL game this year, but the most-viewed NHL regular-season game ever on the network. In addition, the shoot-out thriller outranked every other prime-time cable program in both the Buffalo and Pittsburgh television markets. In Buffalo, the game registered a 12.0 rating, up 16 percent from last season’s comparable average (10.0) for Sabres games on VERSUS. In Pittsburgh, the telecast received a 6.0 rating, making it the highest rating ever in Pittsburgh for a Penguins game on the network.

Obviously, this is an extremely impressive figure and the gigantic 12.0 rating in Buffalo is a nice rebound from the disappointing numbers of late February. Te regular season record isn't too much of a surprise considering the game matched up the two best American TV markets on a day when the Pens arena deal was announced, but it's always nice to see positive news in the regularly bleak landscape of NHL TV ratings.

Buffalo continues to drive the ratings for Versus and it will be interesting to see how many Sabres games the network will try and cover next year. It seems safe to say it will be in the double digits, up from 8 this year.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Local Ratings In Carolina

Carolina is one of the 21 American markets that broadcast their games on an FSN affiliate and they show just 58 of the 82 regular season games. Despite winning the Stanley Cup last season, ratings for Hurricanes games are actually slightly down this year. From The Raleigh News & Observer:

According to FSN, last season's Hurricanes games averaged a 1.1 or 1.2 rating, with 1.0 being equivalent to 1 percent of the Triangle's television households. This season, the game broadcasts have averaged 0.9 or 1.0, said Jeff Genthner, FSN South's vice president and general manager.

Yet, Genthner pointed out, only seven of the other 21 teams with broadcast deals with FSN average better ratings than the Hurricanes.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Late February Ratings

The fight filled contest between Buffalo and Ottawa that took place on February 22nd drew a 5.4 rating on MSG. While that number may pale in comparison to the ratings of popular network programming, it is a strong rating for a cable station. Considering that Thursday nights are filled with some of the most watched network shows (American Idol and Survivor specifically) and that it was a home game (a 1.0 rating in Buffalo is equivalent to roughly 6,500 households, so the 18,690 people at the game make a significant impact) it's a very respectable draw.

The much anticipated rematch two nights later drew a 6.5 local rating. The hype the game received both nationally and locally helped push the number upwards, but it is a bit of a surprise that more people in Buffalo tuned in for the All Star game than a game that received as much attention as this did.

On February 27 the Sabres defeated the hated Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre and the rating can't be described as anything but a disappointment. It only drew a 4.7 despite Buffalo being on the road. It's partially a reflection of American Idol's popularity, but a low number nonetheless. To be fair, a 4.7 average would still be the highest local rating in the NHL, but it was significantly below MSG's average in hockey rabid Buffalo.