January 21, 2013

SKEDBALL: Weekend Sports Ratings Bowl — NHL Debuts with NFL-like Ratings (in Buffalo and Pittsburgh)

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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SUNDAY SPORTS.  Sunday was the extremely powerful doubleheader of the NFC and AFC Championship Games (26.1 and 27.9 Household ratings, respectively, in the 70% of the country covered by the 56 markets with local Nielsen meters).  Early in the day before football started, NBC managed a 1.4 rating for its second day of the strike-shortened NHL season.  Skating against the NFC game on FOX fell below a 1 rating.  ABC went dark on Sunday against the football onslaught.  

Sunday 1.20.2013

Sports Overnight Ratings (HH)

Rating Share Mkts % US
FOX 3:00 NFC Championship SF-ATL 26.1 48 56 70
CBS 6:45 AFC Championship BAL-NE 27.9 42 56 70
NBC 12:30 NHL PHI-BUF 1.4 3 56 70
NBC 4:00 Skating Special 0.7 1 56 70

As great as those NFL numbers are versus everything else, they are down significantly from Sunday, January 22, 2012: 29.1 rating / 51 share for Baltimore-New England on CBS at 3:00 pm and 33.4 / 48 for New York Giants at San Francisco in overtime on FOX at 6:45.   The two games this year averaged a 27.0 rating, down 14% from the 31.3 average last year.


Local Market Ratings — Sunday

Baltimore averaged over a 50 rating as it cheered the Ravens on to victory.  Boston (usually above a 50 rating) fell to a 48.3 rating, probably a function of many Patriots fans turning off their sets midway in the 4th quarter when its was clear they were going to lose (displaying that poor sportsmanship exemplified by their pouting head coach).  But what’s up with the Bay Area?  Under a 40 rating for your Super Bowl-bound team?

1.20.2013 NFL Championships KEY MARKET RATINGS
Away Team Rating Share Home Team Rating Share
FOX 3:00 Sun SF 37.2 75 ATL 45.4 72
CBS 6:45 Sun BAL 52.5 72 NE (BOS) 48.3 68

SATURDAY SPORTS.  NBC returned the NHL to network television, much to the delight of hundreds of thousands of hockey fans in each city with a team.  The regional season opener at 3:30 (either Chicago at the defending champion Los Angeles Kings or Pittsburgh at Philadelphia).  A 2.0 rating is actually pretty good (see local market info below).  Nothing else worked on network sports Saturday: a 1 rating or less for college basketball, sports anthology or a UFC clip special.

Saturday 1.19.2013

Sports Overnight Ratings (HH)

Rating Share Mkts % US
NBC 3:30 NHL CHI-LA or PIT-PHI 2.0 5 56 70
ABC 4:00 ESPN Saturday 0.7 2 56 70
CBS 4:15 NCAA Basketball ORE-UCLA 1.0 2 56 70
FOX 5:00 UFC Road to Octagon 0.6 1 56 70

Local Market Ratings — Saturday

NBC’s 2.0 rating for the NHL season opener Saturday at 3:30 was driven by regionalizing two games, allowing up to four home markets to buttress the national rating.  The strategy worked spectacularly in three of the four markets.  That is not a typo: a 19.4 rating in Pittsburgh tuned in to NBC to watch their Penguins, while a 7.8 turned up in Philadelphia and a 6.6 rating in Chicago.  Only Los Angeles did not deliver: a 1.5 rating for a game with the Kings is pretty sad.

The Sunday game was even more extreme: a 22.3 rating in the relatively small market of Buffalo to watch their Sabres.  Philadelphia’s 5.6 rating for the Sunday Flyers game looks pale in comparison, but is actually quite good for a regular season game.

The trouble for hockey is that in most other markets, when a home team is not involved, the ratings plunge below a 1 rating.  On Sunday, the next highest-rated market for PHI-BUF was a 3.6 in Pittsburgh, while the next-highest markets go all the way down to a 1.7 (Boston, St Louis and Cincinnati).  After that, 32 of the 56 metered markets were a 1.0 or lower, while 18 markets were between a 1.1 and 1.6 rating.  Tough to build a national rating with a following like that.  

1.19-20.2013 NHL Weekend — KEY MARKET RATINGS
Away Team Rating Share Home Team Rating Share
NBC 3:30 Sat CHI 6.6 15 LA 1.5 4
NBC 3:30 Sat PIT 19.4 38 PHI 7.8 16
NBC 12:30 Sun PHI 5.6 12 BUF 22.3 38

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.