SBJ/Feb. 7-13, 2011/Media

NHL viewership trends tied to hockey tradition, Northern exposure

NHL teams’ RSN ratings
Top 5
Team RSN Avg. rating
Pittsburgh FSN Pittsburgh 9.05
Buffalo MSG 6.51
Detroit FS Detroit 4.03
St. Louis FS Midwest 3.29
Boston NESN 2.77

 Bottom 5
Los Angeles FS West 0.44
Anaheim Prime Ticket 0.38
N.Y. Islanders MSG Plus 0.3
Atlanta SportSouth/FS South 0.26
Florida FS Florida 0.19

Rating change from 2009-10
Top 5
Team RSN Change
St. Louis FS Midwest 41%
Boston NESN 36%
Washington CSN Mid-Atlantic 29%
Tampa Bay Sun Sports 27%
Los Angeles FS West 26%

 Bottom 5
N.Y. Islanders MSG Plus -23%
Atlanta SportSouth* -24%
San Jose CSN California -27%
Florida FS Florida -27%
Columbus FS Ohio -41%

Top 5
Team RSN Avg. no. of HHs
Pittsburgh FSN Pittsburgh 105,000
Chicago CSN Chicago 89,000
Detroit FS Detroit 76,000
Boston NESN 68,000
Philadelphia CSN Philadelphia 63,000

 Bottom 5
Tampa Bay Sun Sports 14,000
Columbus FS Ohio 10,000
Phoenix FS Arizona 9,000
Atlanta SportSouth/FS South 6,000
Florida FS Florida 3,000
Note: Viewership data for Carolina, Nashville and the NHL's six Canadian teams was not available. * Information on Thrashers games on FS Atlanta for 2009-10 was not available. Compiled by John Ourand, David Broughton

At the halfway point of its season, the NHL's local TV ratings in the United States are marked by the haves and the have-nots.

The biggest traditional U.S. hockey markets have seen strong growth and big audiences, but the sport still seems to be struggling on TV in the Sun Belt.

The Penguins sit comfortably atop the ratings.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are drawing the biggest local TV audiences leaguewide, with an average of 105,000 homes watching the team's games on FSN Pittsburgh through the All-Star break. The rest of the league's leaders for ratings and viewership are mainly teams in cold-weather markets, including Boston, Chicago and Detroit.

Conversely, teams in warm-weather markets dominate the bottom of the NHL's local TV chart. An average of 3,000 homes watch Panthers games on FS Florida, and an average of 6,000 homes watch Thrashers games on FS South and SportSouth.

One head-scratcher is in Tampa, where the Lightning on the ice went into the All-Star break as the second-place team in the Eastern Conference. On Sun Sports, the team has registered a 27 percent increase to a 0.79 rating, the league's fourth-highest jump, but the Lightning's average of 14,000 homes per game is the league's fifth lowest.

St. Louis games on FS Midwest are up a league-leading 41 percent to an average rating of 3.29. The biggest drop-off has come in Columbus, where Blue Jackets games on FS Ohio have dropped 41 percent.

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