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.


DCThrowback said...

Do you think the game being broadcast in High Definition makes it more likely that someone would watch? While I am a huge Sabres fan, I am much more like to watch a game on DIRECTV on VS HD than I am another game on the package.

HD benefits no other sports as much as it does hockey, IMHO.

gallagher said...

I definitely do think that HD has some impact and most viewers will choose an HD game over a regular broadcast. Gary Bettman frequently mentioned during the lockout that HD would contribute to the growth of NHL TV ratings and I agree that the clarity and detail does benefit hockey more than any other sport.

That said, I don't think it plays a significant role in the ratings yet. The NHL's ratings are highly dependent on local markets. The main reason this game set a record is because it pitted the two strongest local NHL TV markets in the United States against one another. I don't think HD broadcasts are drawing enough fans to register a big difference, but every fan helps.