Behind the Broadcast: Hockey-starved fans boosting TV ratings
I read the tweets from NHL fans who were upset that there was a long lockout. Many of the tweeters vowed to punish the league by not showing up to games, buying team merchandise or watching the games on TV.
Well, I guess most of the those fans didn’t follow through on their threats.
So far, the numbers for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network suggest that NHL fans missed the games. Last Saturday’s regional coverage — Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers — was watched by 2.77 million viewers, earning a 1.6 rating. Excluding Winter Classics, it was the most-watched NHL regular-season coverage on NBC since the network began broadcasting the league again in 2006. It was also the most-watched coverage since three-game regional coverage on FOX on April 18, 1999 (3.09 million viewers).
The Penguins-Flyers game in the Pittsburgh market got a whopping 19.4 rating.
NBC’s coverage of Sunday’s Flyers-Buffalo Sabres game got a 22.3 rating in Buffalo. Later that night, NBCSN got 260,000 viewers for the Blackhawks-Phoenix Coyotes. It might not seem a lot, but that was struggling NBCSN’s biggest audience of the week.
NBCSN got even better news with Wednesday’s game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. The Rangers’ 4-3 overtime victory on the first “Rivalry Wednesday” game was watched by 956,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network. It was the most-watched game in the network’s history, dating back the 2005-06 season, when NBCSN was known as Outdoor Life Network (the name later changed to Versus). The previous record was set on opening night last season, when 874,000 viewers watched the defending Stanley Cup-champion Bruins face the Flyers.
In Canada, CBC said 3.3 million viewers tuned into last Saturday night’s Toronto-Montreal prime-time game, making it the most-watched regular season Prime East game ever on CBC. Earlier in the day, 1.5 million saw the Ottawa-Winnipeg contest.
Over at TSN, an average audience of 1.4 million viewers watched the network’s coverage of Toronto at Pittsburgh. That was TSN’s most-watched regular-season game since 2009.
So, it proves that NHL fans missed the game. And yes, I know the numbers aren’t like the NFL, and we know they never will be, and that is fine.
The question will be, can all of the NHL’s network partners continue the ratings and viewership momentum? With a shortened
48-game regular season, and every game means something, there will be plenty of drama to keep the fans tuned in.
Honestly, I thought I wouldn’t watch. But I can’t stay away from the sport I love.
Viewership for last Sunday’s NFL conference championships was down from last year.
CBS’ coverage of the AFC title game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots attracted 47.7 million viewers. CBS had the late game this year. Last year, the Ravens-Patriots AFC championship game was the early game, and attracted 48.7 million viewers.
FOX had the early game this season, the NFC title contest between the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. The game was seen by 42 million. Last year, with the New York Giants beating the 49ers in overtime in the late game, FOX got 57.6 million people to watch the NFC championship matchup.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews will be a contributing analyst for “The Super Bowl Today” on CBS. . . .
If you are craving some football action this weekend, NFL Network and NFL HD will have the Senior Bowl today at 4, and NBC Sports (NBC13 and NBC13 HD) will have the NFL Pro Bowl at 7 p.m. Sunday. That game will also be on WOFX-AM (980) and WENT-AM (1340) and WENT-FM (105.1). . . .
Rachel Nichols is leaving ESPN for CNN. Nichols will serve as a sports reporter for CNN and Turner Sports, and will anchor a new weekend sports program on CNN/U.S. beginning later this year. . . .
ABC Sports (ABC10 and ABC10 HD) starts its Sunday NBA coverage with a double-header this weekend. The 1 p.m. game features the Miami Heat at the Boston Celtics. At 3:30 p.m., the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the reeling Los Angeles Lakers. . . .
The Golf Channel will relaunch its “Morning Drive” show Feb. 4. Current Morning Drive co-hosts Gary Williams, Damon Hack and Holly Sonders will be joined by Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer. The show will also expand to seven days a week. Also, Ahmad Rashad will be a guest host. . . .
WENT-AM and FM will broadcast a Fulton-Montgomery Community College basketball double-header Feb. 14. At 5 p.m., the FMCC women face Schenectady County Community College. That will be followed at 7 p.m. by the FMCC men against Herkimer Community College.