SBD/Issue 56/Sports Media

National Canadian Broadcasters Seeing Ratings Jump For NHL

Viewership for the CBC's "HNIC" "has grown in all time slots" so far this season, while its pregame show is "making the largest gain," according to William Houston of the GLOBE & MAIL. The first game of the "HNIC" doubleheader is averaging 1.348 million viewers, up 13% from the same point in the '07-08 season, while the second game is averaging 763,000 viewers, up 19%. The CBC's pregame show, which airs from 6:30-7:05pm ET, is averaging 527,000 viewers, a 56% increase over last year, indicating that the time slot "has become destination viewing." The "After Hours" late-night wrap-up show is drawing 281,000 fans, which is up 53%. Meanwhile, NHL telecasts on TSN are up 21% from last year with an average of 496,000 viewers, while RDS is averaging 773,000 viewers, also a 21% jump, for its national coverage of Canadiens games. However, Houston reports the "flip side to national NHL audiences is regional viewership," as audiences on Rogers Sportsnet for the Maple Leafs, Canucks and Senators are all down. Rogers Sportsnet President Doug Beeforth is "skeptical" of the ratings decreases, as he indicated that the "problem may be caused by HDTV." Beeforth said that the net "has doubled its HDTV telecasts since last season," and while national HD audiences "are given an accurate measurement, regional audiences are not." Beeforth: "By BBM Nielsen's own admission, their measurement of HD homes isn't where it should be." A "more accurate system" in collecting regional HD data will be available next fall, but Beeforth said that is a "long time to wait." The following chart shows the ratings trends for Sportsnet regional coverage so far this season (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/4).

% +/- (YR-to-YR)
Maple Leafs

VERSUS NATIONAL RATINGS: Through 17 NHL games on Versus this season, the net is averaging a 0.3 cable rating and 306,000 viewers, up from a 0.2 rating and 250,000 viewers through the same period last season (18 games). Versus most-viewed regular-season game this season to date was the Maple Leafs-Red Wings game on October 9, which drew a 0.5 cable rating and 577,000 viewers. The net is also seeing gains in key male demos, including M18-34 (+49%), M18-49 (46%) and M25-54 (31%) (THE DAILY).

U.S. REGIONAL RATINGS: In San Jose, John Ryan reports the Sharks are averaging a 1.2 HH local rating on CSN Bay Area, a 50% increase from the same time period in '07. The increase is the third-largest jump among NHL teams, behind the Capitals (140%) and the Blackhawks (71%) (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/4). The Capitals also have a local HH rating of 1.2 for games airing on CSN Mid-Atlantic (Nielsen).

DEF-INITELY WATCHING: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand cites a Nielsen report that indicated "at least 22%" of U.S. HHs receive HDTV, and in those HDTV HHs, "ratings for TV sports are 20% higher than in the USA overall." Nielsen said that sports commentary is the "most popular TV programming of any kind for HD viewers" (USA TODAY, 12/4).

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