Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

Top of the morning to you all. Little TSM was up in the middle of the night and yours truly is one of those who once I am awake, I am awake for the remainder of the night…

The fine folks at published an NHL press release stating that audience numbers are up up up. From the release:

“VERSUS dropped the puck on its sixth year of NHL coverage with the most-watched opening night game on U.S. cable in eight years and the most-watched NHL regular season cable telecast in six years. In Canada, CBC’s HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA attracted record audiences for its Saturday night debut this weekend. The local RSN and national TV ratings through Sunday, Oct. 10 combined were up 5% from last year’s opening weekend with 13.9 million gross viewers across North America.

On a country by country basis, U.S. gross viewing was up 16% and Canada was up 2%.”

The surge in Canadian numbers isn’t entirely surprising. Here in the GTA it’s the first “meaningful” game played in a l o n g time. After another early end to the season last year for the Leafs, an uneventful draft and free agent season people couldn’t wait for 2010-2011 to get underway.

The question in the USA is, is this a 16% increase from an enormously low number to just a really low number? Paul Beeston is famous for saying that a good accountant can make chicken bleep numbers look fantastic.

“VERSUS averaged 730,000 viewers for the season-opening game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, making it the best start to the season since 2002 and the most-watched NHL regular season telecast on cable since 2004. The game also was VERSUS’ most-watched regular season game ever, surpassing the previous high set by the Pittsburgh Penguins/Detroit Red Wings telecast on March 22,2010 (622,000 viewers).”

It’s great to hear the numbers are record breaking, however they have a long way to go yet. Take a look at the reported Canadian numbers:

“On Thursday, an average of 1.968 million viewers tuned in to see the Toronto Maple Leafs take on long-time Original Six rivals the Montreal Canadiens while in the nightcap, 1.013 million viewers saw the hometown Oilers defeat the Flames. The evening’s pre-game show, NHL Face-Off, drew an audience of 601,000.”

Now, what is really impressive to me are the reported increases in the NHL digital properties:

” scored the 2nd-most regular season video starts in its history on Sunday, October 10. Unique visitors to increased 19 percent over last year’s opening weekend and opening day drove a 13 percent increase over last season.

· Opening day video starts increased 131 percent vs. last year; opening weekend was up 209 percent.

· Mobile page views during opening weekend increased by 46 percent over the same period last year”

Again, not knowing just how low the numbers were last year makes fully understanding the numbers a tad bit difficult. However, as I have said before the NHL has the biggest potential upside as a result of it’s tech savvy and digitally inclined fan base. I remain convinced that the future of the NHL hinges on it’s ability to feed the appetite of it’s rabid fan base using all the best and latest technological advances.

So, just a few days out of the gate and the signs are all positive for the NHL, at least on the business side.

By the way- Mccown had a great line yesterday while talking to a caller during the 3-4 hour. The topic was the incredibly poor quality of candidates left standing in the Toronto mayoral election. Mccown is 100% right when he said that when the job pays $160,000 you get what you pay for. So true. Mccown went on to say that the head of Roger’s media, a company, according to Mccown of some 6000 employees makes 7 figures, yet Toronto, a city with north of 4m people and a gigantic budget is paying it’s Mayor $160k. What type of candidates do you expect? Tommy Boy vs. E-Health- big f’n surprise.



You can read more in the press release here

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