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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Sam from Scarbrough
October 16, 2010 12:43 pm

A Rogers aka Robbers clone??

News Corp.’s Fox pulled its channels off Cablevision early Saturday after the companies’ programming deal expired and negotiations for a new one stalled, threatening broadcasts of the National League Championship Series for some 3 million Cablevision subscribers in the two metropolitan areas.

The blackout affects Fox 5 and My9 in New York and Fox29 in Philadelphia. Subscribers also lose access to cable channels Fox Business Network, NatGeo Wild and Fox Deportes.

The channels went dark when the programming deal expired just after midnight Friday. Such deals spell out how much a cable TV system pays the broadcaster to carry its signals over the cable lineup.

The impasse means the subscribers, mostly in the New York area but also in Philadelphia, could lose access to Game 1 of the NLCS, when the Phillies and Giants play on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.

October 16, 2010 12:44 pm

I heard some of the 3-4 p.m. hour with callers on McCown’s PTS Friday, a segment I almost always ignore as I dislike phone-in shows. The comments about the mayor and Toronto municipal government were prompted by earlier calls and comments regarding the Argos, their declining attendance, and how the Argos missed a chance to have their own new smaller stadium, a situation McCown and a caller inexplicably blamed on the city.

McCown is intelligent and knowledgeable, and I’m a moderate Argo fan who has been going to 2 or 3 games a year for 30 years. But as another caller pointed out, McCown often seems to have an otherwise uncharacteristic tendency to be a CFL cheerleader, particularly when he falsely implies that the Argo owners were somehow cheated out of getting a new stadium. Although he’s not alone in doing so — Brunt on at least two occasions wrote that the Argos were “outmanoeuvred” over the stadium.

The only “manoeuvre” involved was Cynamon and Sokolowski completely pulling out the Canadian Soccer Association stadium deal when it was being proposed at the York University site. After actually having had a photo-op press conference announcing their intention to build this stadium at York U., and promoting it to sell Argo season tickets, C&S backed out of the project, a move entirely of their own volition, after being offered a decreased-rent deal to remain at Rogers Centre. Here’s a couple of links to CBC news items from that time.

A few months later MLSE stepped in to replace C&S in the CSA stadium project, getting essentially the same deal C&S walked away from — they pay $20 million and any cost overruns. Somehow, McCown suddenly became enraged that government was paying much of the cost of the stadium, when just a few months before he had apparently been completely okay with his friends C&S being the beneficiaries of the same deal.

Given subsequent events, including the revelation that David Braley under the table paid half of the $2 million it cost C&S to buy the Argos and cover some of their operating losses, I have doubts that C&S ever had any honest intention to put any of their own cash into building a new stadium. But what is an indisputable fact is that BMO Field was build entirely without them. It was built by, and for, someone else, without any involvement and most importantly without any money from C&S and the Argos, after they turned down their chance to be involved.

I’ll add that McCown more recently threw a similar tantrum regarding Hamilton’s proposed new stadium. McCown is consistently against government handouts for professional and high pofile (Olympics) sports, but makes a fool of himself by ridiculously supporting large and highly questionable handouts to the CFL, as though the CFL is somehow a worthy charity case, and not simply a poorly run, money-losing, pro sports league.

October 16, 2010 1:56 pm

Great point about the election. No matter who I vote for, I’m not going to feel good about it.

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