February 01, 2011
(Uh, where were these ladies during the Draft, instead of behind onstage?)
If the goal was to create renewed buzz for the NHL All-Star Weekend in the U.S., VERSUS' numbers for the game would indicate it's been accomplished. The NHL's cable home averaged 1,481,000 viewers for Sunday's All-Star Game and reported the following for the skills competition:
The Honda NHL SuperSkills competition on Saturday night averaged 1,183,000 viewers on VERSUS, making it the most watched SuperSkills competition on cable since 2003 (1,127,000 viewers on ESPN). VERSUS saw significant gains in ratings and viewership over the 2009 SuperSkills competition. Average viewership increased 35 percent (1,183,000 vs. 875,000), while HH ratings jumped 43 percent (1.0 HH rating vs. 0.7 HH rating). The telecast also made VERSUS the No. 2-rated cable network in the country among Men 18-49 (for that time period).
The viewers for the last few All-Star Games on VERSUS. Another factor to consider here is that, post-NBC/COMCAST merger, there was heavy cross-promotion leading up the weekend:
2011 - 1,481,000
2009 - 1,087,000
2008 - 852,000
2007 - 691,000
Here are the top five local ratings for the NHL All-Star Game. The Team Lidstrom Effect!
Detroit - 3.8
Pittsburgh - 3.6
Chicago - 2.8
Raleigh - 2.5
Philly - 2.4
Boston - 2.3
As far as the Fantasy Draft itself, consider this: It more than doubled the average ratings for regular season games on VERSUS this season (624,000/302,000) on what's considered a dead zone for U.S. television on Friday night.
If you haven't seen the Canadian viewership numbers yet ... yikes.
TSN drew 1.5 million viewers for the Fantasy Draft, while CBC increased its All-Star Game audience by 56 percent in drawing viewers 2.389 million viewers on Sunday.
The debut of the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft on Friday night was also a success with fans as the telecast averaged 624,000 viewers, up 107 percent from the 2010/11 NHL regular-season average on VERSUS (302,000 viewers). It's the highest rating in 13 years for an NHL All-Star Game on CBC.
One last thing on VERSUS: Lepore reports that they'll air the 2011 World Championships, along with NHL playoff coverage.
UPDATE: Reader David Rice has an alternative take on this news, claiming that the Versus ratings increase is just part of a larger trend: