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Volume 24 No. 112
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Flyers' Game Three Rout Of Penguins Earns NBC 2.3 Overnight Rating

NBC earned a 2.3 overnight Nielsen rating for its coverage yesterday of the Flyers' 8-4 win over the Penguins in Game Three of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff series. The game, which was played from 3:00-6:00pm ET, was the highest-rated of three games on NBC over the weekend. Red Wings-Predators Game Three earned a 1.5 rating from 12:00-3:00pm yesterday. Saturday's coverage of Capitals-Bruins Game Two also earned a 1.5 overnight despite the fact the game went into double OT. The ratings are up from the first weekend of the playoffs last year. A Capitals-Rangers game on Sunday afternoon earned a 1.3 rating, while a Coyotes-Red Wings game on Saturday drew a 1.1 rating (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes all NHL playoff games, "for the first time, are on national TV via NBC and its cable channels NBCSN and CNBC as well as the NHL Network." That means "total playoff viewing will likely increase, although individual game ratings might drop because audiences will be pulled in more directions." But "early box office looks good" (USA TODAY, 4/16).

COVERAGE PRAISED: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes MSG's Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti "presented an alert, balanced treatment of Saturday’s ugly hassle" during Game 2 of the Senators-Rangers series. Rosen and Micheletti quickly noted Senators D Matt Carkner's "seemingly unprovoked assault on [Rangers C] Brian Boyle was provoked," as Boyle had given Senators D Erik Karlsson a "couple of bullying shots to the head in Game 1." After the hassle, MSG then "alertly cut to Karlsson on the Ottawa bench, who appeared to be getting a wink and a nod from the backup goalie." MSG later "showed the tape of the Boyle-Karlsson Game 1 episode." Mushnick: "Good show and tell" (N.Y. POST, 4/16). In Tampa, Tom Jones notes NBC's Pierre McGuire "deserves major kudos for blaming the officials for a brawl that broke out with five minutes left" in Penguins-Flyers yesterday. McGuire "pointed out that officials should have kicked out Penguins star James Neal for a hit he made, which would have eliminated the spark that started a major wildfire." Jones: "I hate to say it, but NBC probably didn't mind all the fighting. People likely stuck around to watch the end of a game that had turned into a Flyers blowout" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/16).

NIGHTMARE SCENARIO: In Ottawa, Mark Sutcliffe noted there is a chance neither the Canucks nor the Senators "could make it past the first round of the post-season," and CBC programming officials have "already begun to fear" that this could become only the second year since '74 that no Canadian team makes it past the first round. The Canucks are down 3-0 in their series against the Kings, while the Senators and Rangers have split the first two games. The last time no Canadian teams made the second round was '96. All of this "couldn’t happen at a worse time for the CBC, which is nearing the end of its contract with the NHL and facing a government wielding an axe." The CBC’s primetime schedule is "completely turned over to hockey for two months every year, a ratings and revenue gamble unlike any other in North American television." Without a Canadian team "for three rounds of spring hockey, television ratings will suffer, advertising revenues will decline, and the CBC will face even more budget pressure" than the 10% cut "imposed by the finance minister" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 4/15).

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: The TAMPA BAY TIMES' Jones writes it is time for NBC "to make a decision about NHL studio analysts Keith Jones and Mike Milbury." They are "knowledgeable hockey guys, but aside from their work with NBC, they also serve as analysts for teams" -- Keith Jones for the Flyers and Milbury for the Bruins." NBC analyst Ed Olczyk also "does color on Blackhawks games." Jones writes it is "true that the Penguins were completely to blame for all the nastiness Sunday, but I find it hard to believe that Jones would be critical of the Flyers." If analysts "don't want to give up their jobs with their teams, then NBC should go out and find analysts who don’t have ties to any teams" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/16).