SBD/Issue 145/Sports Media

NHL Sees Regular Season Viewership Gains In U.S., Canada

Versus for its 56 regular-season NHL telecasts this season averaged 310,000 viewers (0.3 cable rating), up 14% from 272,000 viewers (0.3 cable rating) for 58 telecasts last season. The net averaged 305,000 viewers for 33 telecasts before the All-Star break this season, and 318,000 viewers for 23 telecasts following the break. Maple Leafs-Red Wings on October 9 was the net's most-viewed regular-season game with 577,000 viewers, and was one of only three regular-season telecasts to earn over 500,000 viewers (Penguins-Red Wings on November 11, Sharks-Bruins on February 10). Meanwhile, NBC through nine regular-season NHL telecasts has averaged a 1.1 rating with 1.6 million viewers, up 10% and 13.7%, respectively, from last year's final figures of a 1.0 rating and 1.4 million viewers for 10 telecasts. Final data for last weekend's Red Wings-Blackhawks game were not available at presstime. The game earned a 0.6 overnight Nielsen rating. Viewership figures were also up for telecasts in Canada, with the CBC, RDS and TSN all seeing gains. The chart below lists final viewership figures for NHL broadcast partners, with comparisons to last season (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

'08-09 NHL NATIONAL TV VIEWERSHIP FOR U.S., CANADIAN NETS
NET
TELECASTS
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
NBC
9
1,616
13.7%
CBC: "Hockey Night in Canada"
52
1,000
4.9%
RDS (French language)
120
650
7.4%
TSN^
82
451
11.9%
Versus
56
310
14.0%
^ = Includes pregame ratings for some games.

Maple Leafs Regional Broadcasts
Down 19%, But TSN Ratings Up
ICE PICKS: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes though TSN was "going to score higher ratings during the NHL season, mainly because its new deal with the NHL gave it more Canadian content, and more importantly, more Toronto Maple Leafs coverage," it is "doubtful anyone expected ratings to jump as much as they did." It is "even more doubtful ... that anyone expected CBC's ratings to increase after it lost some of its highly valued leafs broadcasts to TSN," but ratings were up 5% for the "Hockey Night In Canada" early-window games and up 4% for late-window games. Zelkovich noted regionally Maple Leafs broadcasts were down 19% on Rogers Sportsnet Ontario, while the Canucks were up 27%, the Flames saw a 15% bump and the Oilers increased 9% on Rogers Sportsnet. Senators ratings "tumbled almost as much as the team did, dropping 33[%]." Meanwhile, TSN's one-hour broadcast of Tuesday night's NHL Draft Lottery was watched by an average of 288,000 viewers. The following lists average viewers and the percentage increase or decrease in viewers from the '07-08 season for NHL telecasts in Canada (THESTAR.com, 4/15). 

National Broadcasts
NET
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
CBC (early games)
1,232
5%
CBC (late game)
738
4%
"HNIC" (pre-game show)
450
17%
TSN
479
17%
SportsNet Regional Broadcasts
NET
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
Canucks
321
27%
Maple Leafs
319
-19%
Oilers
156
9%
Flames
139
15%
Senators
72
-33%

ON THE FLY: In Pittsburgh, Lafferty & Moran report FS Pittsburgh averaged a 6.9 local rating for Penguins telecasts during the regular season, a "record-high rating." FS Pittsburgh's "Live Penguins Post-Game" also "recorded record-high ratings," averaging a 2.5 local rating. FS Pittsburgh has "led all FSN regional sports networks in NHL game ratings for the past two seasons." Meanwhile, Lafferty & Moran report WXDX-FM, which has carried Penguins games for the past three seasons, has "agreed on a six-year contract extension, beginning this fall," with the team (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/16).

Ratings For Sharks' Games
On CSN Bay Area Up 55%
RATINGS NOTES: CSN Bay Area averaged a 1.4 local rating (33,600 HHs) for Sharks games during the '08-09 season, up 55.6% over a 0.9 rating last year. The March 30 Sharks-Flames telecast drew a 2.2 rating, the highest-rated regular-season Sharks game in the net's history (CSN)....Sabres games this season averaged an 8.1 combined local rating on MSG Network and Versus, down 3.6% from an 8.4 last season (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/11)....NESN averaged a 2.5 local rating for Bruins games this season, up 70% over last year. The net earned a 4.7 local rating for Thursday's Bruins-Canadiens game, the highest-rated regular-season Bruins game on the net since '95 (NESN).

FROZEN IN TIME: CABLEFAX DAILY reports NHL Center Ice subscribers "can now get replays of same-day games." The enhancement "allows each current day's game to re-air approximately 1-hour after the live game ends," and each game will "replay in its entirety and will repeat continuously overnight and the next day, on the same channel, until the following day's live games begin" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/16).

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