SBD/March 5, 2013/Media

CSN Chicago Reaping Benefits Of Blackhawks' Record-Setting Start To NHL Season

The Blackhawks enter tonight’s game against the Wild with a record 22-game point streak to begin the season, and one of the main beneficiaries of the team’s white-hot start has been local TV partner Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The net this year has registered 17 of its 18 highest-rated Blackhawks regular-season game telecasts. Last Thursday’s Blackhawks-Blues game sits as the net’s highest-rated game with a 7.54 local rating in Chicago. But that mark may not last long, as CSN Chicago already has broken the previous high mark for a game 15 times this season. CSN Chicago President Jim Corno said, “You’d have to go back years and years and years to when the Blackhawks were in the Stanley Cup Final -- I believe in the early ‘90s -- to where you’d see anything close. We did big numbers back then, but nothing like this, nothing during the regular season where it’s just continued to build.” He added, “It really is a phenomenal thing to experience, when you see these kinds of ratings night after night. … We’re not seeing numbers like this for any other teams during the regular season right now.” To that point, the Bulls were averaging a 3.3 local rating heading into the NBA All-Star break. The Blackhawks’ on-ice success is even beginning to cross into the national sports debate. ESPN in recent days has asked several of its analysts what the best team is right now in pro sports -- the Blackhawks or the Heat, which have a 15-game win streak themselves. Meanwhile, NBC’s coverage Sunday of Blackhawks-Red Wings, which saw the Hawks tie it late in regulation to preserve the point streak, drew a 1.6 overnight rating, the net’s best mark for a non-regionalized, non-Winter Classic regular-season game.

ALL-TIME HIGHEST-RATED BLACKHAWKS
GAMES ON CSN CHICAGO
RANK
DATE
MATCHUP
LOCAL RATING
1
2/28/13
Blackhawks-Blues
7.54
2
2/19/13
Canucks-Blackhawks
7.41
3
2/25/13
Oilers-Blackhawks
6.60
4
2/22/13
Sharks-Blackhawks
6.59
5
3/1/13
Blue Jackets-Blackhawks
6.38
 

RISING TIDE: CSN Chicago is seeing the Blackhawks’ ratings spike rub off on other programming across the net. Since the NHL season began in January, the net has doubled the ratings for “Sports Talk Live,” which runs at 5:30pm CT. Corno said, “Even when we don’t have Hawks games, we’re seeing increases in ratings because people are tuning to the channel more. It’s been a very good thing for the network.”

SUPPLY & DEMAND: The net does most of its ad sales before the NHL season begins, and Corno said sponsors who bought spots during Blackhawks games last winter “were very smart because we were not projecting these kinds of ratings.” Corno: “People who are coming in now and getting on the bandwagon are paying more of an appropriate fee based on what the ratings are, whereas the people who bought early -- to be quite honest with you -- they got a deal.” Based on the regular-season ratings this year, there likely will be increases in ad prices next year. Corno said, “What the pricing will be will really depend on a lot of factors that won’t be determined until the offseason.”
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