SBJ/20100111/This Week's News

NHL viewership gains on RSNs

The NHL’s television ratings have generally been solid for the first half of the season, especially at the local level, with more 70 percent of regional sports networks reporting increases or generally flat ratings.

On a national level, Versus’ ratings are flat with last year (0.2 U.S. household rating), though the number of households tuning into the games (208,000) has dropped 10 percent. Versus executives say the dip is likely due to its carriage battle with DirecTV, which dumped the network a month before the season started.

The best news for the league is at the regional level, which saw overall viewership rise 6 percent, paced by the four Comcast regionals (+15.5 percent) and 11 Fox Sports RSNs (+9 percent). Meanwhile, MSG saw viewership increase 4.6 percent, led by the Islanders’ 115 percent jump from 13,000 homes to 28,000.

The biggest ratings and audience numbers so far are out of Pittsburgh, where the Penguins drew an 8.08 rating/93,000 homes.

The biggest concern for the league has to be in some of the warm-weather markets, which produced the lowest audiences for NHL games.

In South Florida, for example, the Panthers are averaging only 4,000 homes for their games. Atlanta (8,000 homes), Phoenix (10,000 homes) and Tampa (11,000 homes) have similarly low numbers.

NHL Regional Sports Network ratings
Team RSN (no. of games) 2009-10 rating
(change from 2008-09)
2009-10 No. of HHs
(change from 2008-09)
Anaheim Ducks Prime Ticket (21) 0.39 (+39.3%) 22,000 (+37.5%)
Atlanta Thrashers SportSouth (22) 0.34 (+47.8%) 8,000 (+60.0%)
Boston Bruins NESN (35) 2.14 (-2.3%) 52,000 (-1.9%)
Buffalo Sabres MSG (25) 6.17 (-28.8%) 39,000 (-29.0%)
Chicago Blackhawks Comcast SportsNet Chicago (23) 1.94 (+79.6%) 68,000 (+78.9%)
Colorado Avalanche Altitude (33) 1.52 (-7.9%) 23,000 (-8.0%)
Columbus Blue Jackets Fox Sports Ohio (37) 1.86 (+27.4%) 17,000 (+21.4%)
Dallas Stars Fox Sports Southwest (25) 0.72 (+38.5%) 18,000 (+38.5%)
Detroit Red Wings Fox Sports Detroit (29) 4.06 (+10.6%) 77,000 (+8.5%)
Florida Panthers Fox Sports Florida (35) 0.26 (+73.3%) 4,000 (+100.0%)
Los Angeles Kings Fox Sports West (28) 0.30 (-21.1%) 17,000 (-19.0%)
Minnesota Wild Fox Sports North (24) 1.57 (-31.7%) 27,000 (-32.5%)
New Jersey Devils MSG+ (21) 0.55 (+57.1%) 41,000 (+57.7%)
New York Islanders MSG+ (28) 0.38 (+123.5%) 28,000 (+115.4%)
New York Rangers MSG (30) 0.96 (-8.6%) 72,000 (-7.7%)
Philadelphia Flyers Comcast SportsNet (29) 2.16 (-0.9%) 64,000 (0.0%)
Phoenix Coyotes Fox Sports Arizona (26) 0.56 (+19.1%) 10,000 (+11.1%)
Pittsburgh Penguins Fox Sports Pittsburgh (37) 8.08 (+32.7%) 93,000 (+32.9%)
San Jose Sharks Comcast SportsNet California (33) 1.09 (-12.8%) 27,000 (-12.9%)
St. Louis Blues Fox Sports Midwest (33) 2.27 (+46.5%) 28,000 (+47.4%)
Tampa Bay Lightning Sun Sports (31) 0.61 (+22.0%) 11,000 (+22.2%)
Washington Capitals Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (34) 1.17 (-1.7%) 27,000 (-3.6%)
Notes: Based on games played through Jan. 2, 2010, compared with the same time period last season. Comparable data for the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks was not available.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal analysis of Nielsen Media Research data
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