SBD/Issue 150/Sports Media

CBC NHL Playoffs Viewership Down Due To One Less Canadian Team

TSN Playoff Viewership Up 19% Thanks In 
Large Part To Flames-Blackhawks Series
Viewership for the opening round of the NHL playoffs on the CBC is down 7% from last year, while TSN's audience has increased 19% as of Monday, and TSN is up "mainly because it has a Canadian playoff team for the first time" while the CBC is down "because instead of having three Canadian teams as it did last year, it has only two now," according to Chris Zelkovich of the TORONTO STAR. Still, the CBC last week owned eight of the 10 most-viewed sports events on Canadian TV, with TSN posting the other two, and the net's high viewership is "thanks mainly" to airing the Canucks-Blues series, and "to a lesser degree" the Bruins-Canadiens series. Meanwhile, TSN's viewership gains are "thanks mainly" to airing the Flames-Blackhawks series. But while the Flames are "producing some of the highest NHL ratings ever at TSN," the team has not yet reached the 1 million viewer mark that is a "given when Canadian teams are featured on CBC." Zelkovich wrote TSN also is "continuing to go the cheap route and pick up U.S. broadcasts of NHL series, which really isn't what Canadian viewers should be getting" (THESTAR.com, 4/22).

FULL STEAM AHEAD: Versus President Jamie Davis Tuesday noted the network this season posted its highest-ever NHL regular-season ratings, and the net's playoff ratings are "blowing away" the regular-season figures. Davis: "People might say there’s a recession out there, but there's not in television ratings for hockey because our first week in the playoffs right now, our total viewership is up 50% over last year, the household rating up over 33% and in the key male demos -- men 18-49 -- are up 40% and men 25-54 up over 50%." Meanwhile, Davis said the net's pre-, intermission and post-game programming seeks to build enthusiasm for hockey and "promote it heavily," but he added, "Having the key markets and the teams playing well is also helping" ("NHL Live!" NHL Network, 4/21).

RATINGS NOTES: The Bruins' four game sweep of the Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs earned a 9.2 average local rating (221,000 HHs), making it the highest-rated playoff series in NESN’s 25 year history. NESN’s previous record rating for a Bruins playoff series was an 8.4 local rating for the '04 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Canadiens, which went seven games (NESN)....FS Detroit earned a 12.0 local rating for Tuesday's Red Wings-Blue Jackets Western Conference Quarterfinal Game Three, marking the highest-rated Red Wings telecast on the net since the '04 playoffs. The net is averaging a 10.4 rating for the series (FSN)....CSN Philadelphia posted a 5.2 local rating for Tuesday's Penguins-Flyers Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game Four, up 13% over the net's coverage of Game Two (CSN)....MSG Network earned a 2.72 local rating for Monday's Capitals-Rangers Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game Three, the net's highest-rated Rangers game since April '97 (NEWSDAY.com, 4/21).

Tonight's Sharks-Ducks Game Four Blacked Out
For Many San Diego Hockey Fans
CALIFORNIA BLACKOUT: In San Diego, Jay Posner reports most San Diego County hockey fans "will be unable to watch" tonight's Sharks-Ducks Western Conference Quarterfinal Game Four, the "third time a game in the NHL first-round playoff series has been blacked out." FSN Prime Ticket will air the game, and the net is "not available to Cox Cable subscribers and most Time Warner Cable Customers." The national telecast of the game on Versus also "will be blacked out in San Diego" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/23). Meanwhile, the S.F. Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins said of the MLB Giants getting better TV ratings in the Bay Area than the Sharks, “What’s in the blood? That’s what matters. People have been waiting for the Giants for months now.” The San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami responded, “Until they get to the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s just not going to be baked into the DNA of the Bay Area” (“Chronicle Live,” CSN Bay Area, 4/22).

STREAMING EFFECT: PAID CONTENT's Staci Kramer reported the NHL, using a "mix of database and contextual marketing," has been able to "boost playoff orders of NHL GameCenter Live" by 50%, including a revenue increase of 120%. The NHL through the first five days of the playoffs earned $100,000 for the service, compared to $40,000 during the same period last year (PAIDCONTENT.org, 4/22).

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