Penguins rule local TV ratings; Bruins, Blues see huge spike

Sports Business Journal (reg. req.) has the 2010-11 regular-season cable ratings for 22 of the NHL's franchises -- they were unable to collect data for Carolina, Nashville or the Canadian franchises -- and the Pittsburgh Penguins are, by far, the most watched team locally in the NHL. Which either speaks to their surging popularity among fans, or the other entertainment options in Pittsburgh.

According to SBJ, the Penguins have an average rating of 8.68 rating and have an average of 101,000 homes tuned into their games on Root Sports. From SBJ:

Not surprisingly, the league's biggest markets posted the biggest local TV audiences. Following Pittsburgh, the largest local TV audiences came in Chicago (96,000 average homes on CSN Chicago), Boston (77,000 on NESN), Detroit (76,000 on FS Detroit), Philadelphia (71,000 on CSN Philadelphia) and New York (59,000 for Rangers games on MSG).

The Florida Panthers continued to suffer through TV problems. The club's 0.16 rating and 3,000-home average were both league lows.

That's just an ugly, ugly number right there. Pittsburgh, Buffalo (7.03), Detroit (4.03), Boston (3.12) and St. Louis (3.07) rounded out the top five.

Also of interest were the top 5 and bottom 5 ratings changes from last season to this season -- which offered great news for teams like the Bruins, Bolts and Blues … and not so much for the Sharks.

Beginning with the most improved markets:

Top 5 Ratings Changes (Avg. 2010-11 Rating)

1. Boston Bruins, NESN: 43.8% (3.12, No. 4 overall)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning, Sun Sports: 40.0% (0.84)
3. St. Louis Blues, FS Midwest: 31.8% (3.07, No. 5 overall)
4. Dallas Stars, FS Southwest: 23.0% (0.91)
5. Chicago Blackhawks, CSN Chicago: 12.3% (2.74)

That Blues number is impressive, and in fact it was a new ratings record for the franchise. Meanwhile, on the other end of the ratings spectrum:

Bottom 5 Ratings Changes (Avg. 2010-11 Rating)

18. New Jersey Devils, MSG Plus: -21.7% (0.47)
19. Columbus Blue Jackets, FS Ohio: -22.7% (1.09)
20. San Jose Sharks, CSN CA: -27.9% (0.80)
21. Atlanta Thrashers*, SportSouth: -32.4% (0.23)
22. Florida Panthers, FS Florida: -36.0% (0.16)

* According to SBJ, the Thrashers also had 33 games air on FS South that averaged a 0.27 rating.

What is up with that Sharks' ratings tumble? That's a conference finalist right there! Who knew Evgeni Nabokov was such a marquee player …

(Ed. Note: Puck The Media's household numbers were from last season, so we're just deleting them as to make sure there's no confusion.)

Meanwhile, via Puck The Media, ratings news for NBC in 2011:

Sunday's broadcast of Capitals vs. Rangers, Game 3 drew a 1.3 overnight, the highest an indoor NHL broadcast has drawn since last year's Stanley Cup Final. This was down 13% from that aforementioned Coyotes/Red Wings game from 2010. It was also down 24% from the comparable broadcast of Penguins vs. Flyers, Game 3 on April 19, 2009.

NHL On NBC Overnights This Season
January 1 — Washington vs. Pittsburgh: 2.8
January 23 — Philadelphia vs. Chicago: 1.1
February 6 — Pittsburgh vs. Washington: 1.0
February 13 — Boston vs. Detroit: 0.9
February 20 — Regional Coverage*: 1.2
February 20 — Pittsburgh vs. Chicago*: 1.2
March 6 — Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers: 0.9
March 13 — Chicago vs. Washington: 0.9
March 20 — NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh: 0.7
April 3 — NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia: 1.0
April 10 — Detroit vs. Chicago: 1.1
Season Average: 1.1

2011 Stanley Cup Playoff Overnights

Apr. 16 — Phoenix vs. Detroit, Game 2: 1.1
Apr. 17 — NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 3: 1.3

The 2-0 Capitals lead had to play into that Rangers number, no?

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