Monday, December 8, 2008

League Wide Ratings

The Nielsen Wire blog gave listings for local American TV ratings throughout the NHL as of December 3rd. Buffalo leads the NHL once again with an 8.9 figure, up 14% from last season.

Top US Local Ratings 2008-09 Season
NHL Teams Avg. Local HH Rating
Buffalo Sabres 8.9
Pittsburgh Penguins 5.7
Detroit Red Wings 3.3
Minnesota Wild 2.6
Philadelphia Flyers 2.1
Colorado Avalanche 1.9
St. Louis Blues 1.9
Boston Bruins 1.6
Columbus Blue Jackets 1.3
Washington Capitals 1.2
Chicago Blackhawks 1.2
San Jose Sharks 1.2
NY Rangers 1.2

Saturday, October 25, 2008

First Figure of 2008-2009 Season

The first individual game rating was reported by Alan Pergament of The Buffalo News on Saturday. The information is for Thursday October 23rd's 4-3 OT win over the Minnesota Wild.

Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win in Game Two — which aired opposite the Buffalo Sabres’ overtime win in Minnesota — slipped to a 5.7 here. The Sabres game averaged a 10.1 rating.

A double digit number for an off-time October game against a relatively boring Western Conference opponent ( all while competing against the World Series) bodes well for the Buffalo region's bid to have the highest TV ratings among American markets for the fourth consecutive season.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Around The NHL: Round 1

Think about the following the next time you hear ESPN bash the NHL for having lower TV ratings than some obscure sport or cable show. 20% of NHL markets are located in Canada where ratings "don't count" including some of the most storied franchises in the league. Isn't it ironic that the "worldwide leader" conveniently ignores the fact that the NHL is popular and highly viewed in Canada? If Montreal plays Detroit for the title, there's a good chance that the Stanley Cup Finals will be watched by more North Americans than the NBA Finals or the World Series. Something tells me SportsCenter might not mention that.

It was a very encouraging opening round for the NHL from a ratings standpoint. Obviously, this is all relative as Versus still hasn't cracked a 1.0 rating yet for any individual team, but the percentage increases are still noteworthy.

Versus averaged a 362,958 viewers (0.4 coverage rating) for 26 games in its coverage of the NHL Playoffs first round, up 26.7% from last season's 23 opening-round games, which averaged 286,476 viewers (0.3 coverage area rating). The net also gains in male demos 18-34 (+66.8%), 18-49 (+65.6%) and 25-54 (+67.4%). Flyers-Capitals Game Seven Tuesday night was the net's most-viewed game, averaging 682,000 viewers and a 0.7 coverage rating.

In addition to the Flyers Game 7 win the following games earned a rating of .5 or higher for Versus: Game 7 of the Flames/Sharks series, Game 5 of the Predators/Red Wings series, and Game 7 of the Bruins/Habs series.

The ratings for RDS in Montreal are simply mind-boggling. Here are the numbers for the Montreal/Boston matchup:

Game 5: 1.737 million viewers (RDS)
Game 6: 1.882 million viewers (RDS)
Game 7: 2.031 million viewers (RDS)
Series Average: 1.696 million viewers (RDS)

Keep in mind, RDS only reaches 2.6 million households. Canada lists its TV ratings in terms of viewers and not households like in the United States, but even still, these are amazing figures.

In addition to the French telecast that's shown on RDS, this series was broadcast throughout Canada in English on CBC. Game 7 on CBC drew 2.070 million viewers. So, in Canada alone, 4.1 million people watched the Canadiens beat the Bruins. That's 4.1 million people watching a first round NHL game in a country of ~30 million people. Think about that. The series averaged 1.501 million viewers on CBC, which means the series averaged a total of 3.2 million viewers in Canada alone. Impressive.

Other ratings notes:

NBC extends its deal with the NHL for another season.

The Caps/Flyers series set local ratings records in D.C., Philly, and Baltimore.

Sens/Pens Game 3 earned a 16.5 rating in Pittsburgh, which was the 3rd highest rated game ever on FSN-Pittsburgh.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Buffalo Draws NBC's Highest Rating

Even though the Sabres aren't there, Buffalo is still interested in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Apparently, they're more interested than some of the cities with teams playing. The Buffalo DMA drew a higher rating than any other market for the Flyers 2-0 victory over Washington on April 13th on NBC, including Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Buffalo clearly is a hockey town after the Bills’ season ends, with last Sunday’s playoff game between Washington and the Philadelphia Flyers and ex-Sabres Daniel Briere and Martin Biron getting a higher rating here (about a 5) than it did in Philly, D.C. and the rest of the country on NBC.

The roughly 5.0 figure in Buffalo exceeds the 3.8 rating in Philadelphia and the 3.0 rating in the Washington D.C. area. The game drew a 1.0 rating nationally, which was down from a 1.2 comparable rating last year. However, this year's first round matchup did have to compete with the Masters, which likely drew some viewers away.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Regular Season Average

The Sabres averaged an 8.3 local rating in the Buffalo DMA on MSG for the 2007-2008 regular season.

The Buffalo Sabres ended the regular season averaging an 8.3 rating on MSG, which is in the ballpark of the average ratings for prime time programming on the local Fox and CBS affiliates and ahead of the local ABC and NBC affiliates. The 8.3 rating is about a 60 percent improvement on the 5.1 rating the Sabres had in their President’s Cup winning season of 2006-07. But it really isn’t an apt comparison. The 5.1 rating came with an asterisk because Nielsen has since acknowledged that a technical issue made it vastly lower than it should have been.

The underreporting issue has been well-documented here, so comparing this season to the '06-'07 campaign really is useless. The 8.3 figure is still tops in the NHL by a significant margin, but it's pretty disappointing all things considered. If Sabres management hadn't messed up the past offseason so badly, the number would almost certainly be in the double digits and there would be plenty of playoff ratings in the upper 20's still to be reported. Instead, we'll just have to wait and see if Buffalo can hold off Pittsburgh for next year's ratings title. And there's always that chance we'll pull a higher rating for the Cup Finals than one of the markets playing in it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ratings for 3/10 and 3/27

Alan Pergament gives the ratings for The Sabres shootout loss on Versus to the Rangers on March 10th and the Sabres shootout win over Ottawa on MSG on March 27th in his most recent column:

The low Thursday ratings [for the NCAA men's basketball tournament] were partly due to competition on MSG for three hours with the Buffalo Sabres’ shootout victory over Ottawa. The Sabres game had a 10.8 rating.

If the Sabres miss the playoffs, Versus, the cable home of the NHL, may be as unhappy as local fans. This area remains a terrific TV market for hockey. The Sabres’ overtime loss to the New York Rangers a few weeks ago had a 10.2 rating on Versus, making it the highest-rated program in prime time here. It averaged a 14.4 rating in the last hour. In New York City, the game averaged a 1.4 rating.

Buffalo's the only American market in the NHL where hockey games are regularly earn the highest rating of any prime time show, network or cable. The double digit ratings this late in a disappointing season are encouraging.

To put that in perspective, Pittsburgh (one of the "Big 3" NHL American TV markets with Buffalo and Detroit) recently earned a 10.7 local rating. That was the second highest rating of any regular season game in Penguins history. Buffalo got a 10.8 in a down season for a pretty much average regular season game competing against march Madness.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ratings for 2/25 and 2/27

Alan Pergament reports on the Sabres ratings for the February 25th home game against Philadelphia and the February 27th home contest versus Nashville:

Buffalo’s passion for hockey was most evident during Campbell’s last game as a Sabre — a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia carried on Versus. The game had a 12.2 local rating, easily making it the highest-rated prime time program here on Monday. The Sabres’ 8-4 victory over Nashville on Wednesday featuring newcomer Steve Bernier’s debut had a 12.0 rating, behind only “American Idol” (16.0) in prime time.

The win over Nashville was carried on MSG. Obviously, ratings over 12 are phenomenal and Tuesday's big nationally televised win over Philadelphia should garner a big number despite competition from American Idol. A strong playoff run could push Buffalo's season average to a 10.0, which would be the first double digit regular season average for an NHL team that I've ever heard of.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Buffalo Tops All-Star Game Ratings

Buffalo was the highest rated local market for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game with a 3.3 rating and the only market in the United States where Versus was the #1 rated channel for that time slot. However, that's down significantly from 7.1 rating from the 2007 All-Star Game that featured three Sabres in the starting line-up. In 2007, an additional 2.7 rating was registered on CBC; CBC's rating in Buffalo for this year's game is not yet available.

Here are ratings for some markets with Versus cable network ranking in parenthesis:

1) Buffalo: 3.3 (#1)
2) Pittsburgh: 3.0 (#3)
3) Detroit: 2.8 (#4)
4) Philadelphia: 2.2 (#3)
5) Minneapolis-St. Paul: 2.1 (#2)
6) New York: 1.0 (#11)

Monday, January 28, 2008

NHL All-Star Game Rating

Sports Business Daily reports that the NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta drew a bigger rating than the 2007 Game in Dallas, but it was a still a poor figure compared to the past. The rating in Atlanta is especially troubling.

Last night's NHL All-Star game on Versus earned a 0.76 rating in the metered markets, which is up from a 0.54 last year. Host city Atlanta's preliminary rating was a 0.25, which is down from a 0.54 for host-city Dallas last year.

The 2007 All-Star Game actually garnered a .7 national rating last year, so the increase in fairly small. The figures for local markets will likely come out tomorrow.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

League Wide Comparison

On December 18th, the owner of the Washington Capitals, Ted Leonsis, posted a look at American TV ratings around the NHL. Now that we have Buffalo's figures, here's a comparison. Keep in mind that Buffalo's figures are from January 18th, while the other teams are current as of December 18th. (Data for Carolina, Nashville, Boston, and Colorado was not available.)

1) Buffalo Sabres: 8.50
2) Pittsburgh Penguins: 5.08
3) Detroit Red Wings: 4.64
4) Minnesota Wild: 2.62
5) St. Louis Blues: 2.43
6) Philadelphia Flyers: 2.30
7) New York Rangers: 1.08
8) Columbus Blue Jackets: 1.04
9) San Jose Sharks: 0.90
10) Tampa Bay Lightning: 0.66
11) Chicago Blackhawks: 0.60
12) Washington Capitals: 0.50
13) Dallas Stars: 0.41
14) New Jersey Devils: 0.36
15) Los Angeles Kings: 0.31
16) Anaheim Ducks: 0.27
17) New York Islanders: 0.25
18) Phoenix Coyotes: 0.23
19) Atlanta Thrashers: 0.18
20) Florida Panthers: 0.17

Sabres/Devils Rating and Season Average

The Sabres shootout loss to the Devils on January 12th earned an 8.3 rating for MSG. Considering that the Devils have historically played a sleep-inducing brand of hockey, it was a home game, it was game #9 of what would eventually be a 10 game winless streak, and it was competing with the second round of the NFL playoffs, that's a very good number.

Also of significance from Pergament's article, the Sabres have averaged an 8.5 local rating on MSG so far in the 2007-2008 season. While that's technically an increase, a reporting error lead to ratings figures being artificially lower last season, so the true rating number is merely an estimation. It seems safe to figure that Buffalo drew between a 9.0 and 10.0 in 2006-2007. The lower figure this year, however, doesn't include the gigantic rating for the Winter Classic or any other nationally televised games that tend to draw big numbers. The fact that the Sabres still have the highest rating in the NHL among American teams despite struggling on the ice is a testament to the NHL's popularity in Buffalo.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Winter Classic Ratings

The Winter Classic on NBC earned a 38.2 rating 58 share locally. In Pittsburgh the game drew an impressive 17.7 rating with a 30 share. Nationally, the match-up between the Pens and Sabres earned the highest rating for an NHL regular season game since February of 1996 with a 2.6 rating and 5 share.

The figure in Buffalo is even more impressive when you consider there were 82,000+ people in attendance at Ralph Wilson Stadium and HSBC Arena. In a market as small as Buffalo, that's likely ~5 ratings points. Additionally, the Ice Bowl was an "event", which have been notoriously difficult to properly rate since s many people throw parties and get together to watch the game.

All in all, it's a step in the right direction for the NHL. TV Week lists the top ten rated markets:

Top 10 Metered Markets:

1. Buffalo, N.Y., 38.2/58

2. Pittsburgh 17.7/30

3. Minneapolis 5.1/11

4. Denver 3.7/7

5 (tie). Providence, R.I., 3.5/7

5 (tie). Las Vegas 3.5/6

7. St. Louis 3.3/5

8. Boston 3.2/6

9. Sacramento 2.9/6

10 (tie). Richmond, Va., 2.8/5

10 (tie). Hartford, Conn., 2.8/5