Game 2 Final Numbers Up From 2009

After some disconcerting numbers about Game #1’s ratings, the NHL stayed up after looking initially up in the ratings for Game #2.

The NHL On NBC scored a 3.3/6 final rating, 5.9 million viewers and a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49 for Monday’s broadcast between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.  This is up 6% in ratings and 11% in viewers from the comparable broadcast in 2009, between Detroit and Pittsburgh and on a Sunday night.

Through two games, NBC is averaging a 2.8 rating and 5.1 million viewers for it’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Final, virtually even in ratings and up 4% in viewership.  NBC continues their coverage of the series (potentially) with Game #5 on Sunday night, when they will take on the NBA Finals on ABC.

Your Announcers and Open Thread For Night 39 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Chicago vs. Philadelphia, Game 3 (CHI Leads 2-0), 8:00 PM ET

National TV (US): VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Reporters: Bob Harwood and Charissa Thompson

National TV (Canada): CBC (HD)
Play by Play: Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Elliotte Friedman

National TV (Canada-French): RDS (HD)
Play by Play: Pierre Houde
Color: Benoit Brunet

International TV: NHL International
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Color: Joe Micheletti

Final Numbers For Game 1 End Up Even and Down with 2009

From Sports Media Watch:

As it turns out, the 2010 Stanley Cup Final opened on a down note for NBC.

Game 1 of the Flyers/Blackhawks series drew a 2.3 final rating and 4.4 million viewers on NBC Saturday night, down 4% in ratings and virtually flat in viewership compared to Penguins/Red Wings Game 1 last year (2.4, 4.4 mil), and up 92% and 83%, respectively, from Penguins/Red Wings Game 1 on Versus two years ago (1.2, 2.4 mil).

Sunday’s game tied Hurricanes/Red Wings Game 1 on ESPN in ’02 as the second-highest rated Stanley Cup Final opener since ’99.

This marks the third-highest rating for the first Stanley Cup Final telecast on broadcast since 2002, behind last year’s aforementioned Penguins/Red Wings Game 1 (2.4) and Red Wings/Penguins Game 3 in ’08 (2.4).

VERSUS Adds Big Name Guests, Telestrator to Stanley Cup Coverage

VERSUS begins its’ fifth year televising two games of the Stanley Cup Final tonight, and they are sort of reaching back and forward for innovations in their telecasts, as well as having NHL tastemakers and legends visit their studio show.

Flyer goaltending legend Bernie Parent will visit the studio show Hockey Central (on-site at the Wachovia Center) during the pre-game report at 7:30 PM.  Mark Messier will be a guest during the first intermission, to likely discuss the awarding of his Mark Messier Leadership Award.  Finally, the commissioner Gary Bettman will visit with Hockey Central sometime during Game 4.

Eddie Olczyk, who will call his fourth Stanley Cup Final for VERSUS along with Mike “Doc” Emrick, has been given a telestrator in the booth to add to his analysis.  The 360-cam “Liberovision” will continue to be used as an invaluable tool.  Extra HD cameras – a staple from VERSUS’ Conference Final coverage – will be implemented, as well as those super slo-mo cameras that you’ve seen during All-Star Games, Conference Finals and many other sporting events as of late.

VERSUS’ coverage of the Stanley Cup Final begins with Game 3, tonight at 7:30 PM ET.

Guest Chair: Looking at CBC’s Coverage

Editor’s Note: Hey folks.  I know you’ve been reading a lot of opinion/analysis about the American networks, so I felt it was only fair the Canadians to get equal time with a review of the CBC’s coverage.  For that, we turn to real live Canadian Jared Clinton of the blog Cycle Down Low.  Please go and read his blog as intently as you do this article.

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs go from a field of sixteen to a mere two, the homegrown networks that Canadians are able to view the final battle for Lord Stanley’s mug dwindles down to just one: CBC. The Canadian media juggernaut takes over coverage for the Flyers and Blackhawks battling it out for the sports greatest prize, just as has happened since the beginning of time, or so it feels like. With the first two games already behind us with the Blackhawks jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, we can take a look at if the network we’ve all grown accustomed to has been played out or if there is still tread on the CBC’s Stanley Cup Finals broadcasting tires.

There are a great number of factors that go in to each specific networks broadcast coverage, and for most there really is a toss up between which of the Canadian networks does it best. With TSN, we are given an entirely different roster of analysts from backgrounds completely different of those on the CBC crew. The make-up of the CBC brings forth two goalies, a self-proclaimed fifth liner, a referee and some old guy who has a few screws loose and claims to own a crystal ball that helps him see into the future. But when you throw together a cast of characters like that, who would you be to say that it might not just be crazy enough to work?

The tandem of Ron Maclean and Don Cherry continue to open up each Finals broadcast with their back and forth about the keys to the game and Grapes’ ability to channel his inner Bill O’Reilly, using the “loud = right” equation to voice his opinion on what will be a factor and how the game will shake out. Don’t get me wrong; the man is a Canadian icon, but it is starting to become an issue when he is stumbling over his own words every other sentence. Undeniably, however, he does add flavour and character to the broadcast which surely has yet to truly hurt the product.

When Maclean and Cherry’s banter is complete, the camera has been thrown over to Elliot Friedman or Scott Oake where the two have given the broadcast arguably it’s best piece that isn’t the in-game action with Inside Hockey. The two broadcasters who have been with the network for several years take a look inside the dressing room, going behind the scenes and giving the viewers a look at the players underneath the jersey. Before game one, viewers were treated to a piece on Dustin Byfuglien that featured the Blackhawks big forward along with his mother and two grandparents and took a look at what he had to overcome in order to make his way to the NHL. The piece was a bit moving, as you see that for a guy who has such a love/hate following really did come from a pretty bare bones upbringing to make it to the show.

A really refreshing thing about the piece that some Canadians watching the Finals this year may not realize or take into account is that it went to show just how even the pre-game coverage has been with two American teams facing off for the Cup. With a Canadian team lacking in this year’s final two, and with the absence of Canadian hockey poster boy Sidney Crosby, there has been a great focus on the players on both sides of the ice rather than what can, quite frankly, be a very Canadian biased broadcast. Through two games we have already been given the ability to get to know players from both teams seemingly without prominent focus on either the ‘Hawks nor the Flyers. A lot of the praise for this falls on the team that calls the game.

For those of you who are NHL video game fans, you may recognize the voice of the CBC play-by-play team as none other than Jim Hughson, the former voice of the EA NHL series. A very distinguishable voice and a great ability to keep up with the action while showing a flare for injecting emotion, Hughson’s calls have been a delight this post season and continue to be for the Finals. The former Canucks play-by-play man has moved over to the big network and taken the number one job from that of, and I shudder when I say this, the legendary Bob Cole. (No offense to Cole, but I think we all prefer to know what’s going on in the moment instead of having to hear about the happenings of five minutes ago which he has yet to spew. Okay, maybe some offense.)

Hughson has shown that he can take a moment in these Finals and capitalize on the ability to burn his voice into your brain, most specifically with his near patented “Great Save!” call that can be heard in nearly every single game. If it doesn’t send chills down your spine when it is that big moment, you may not have a pulse. His call of each goal follows the same basic formula, but it’s tried and true, and he has been reason alone to stick with CBC this post-season when Canadians have the option of flipping south of the border and watching the NBC feed.

In the booth with Hughson is another recognizable voice, that of Craig Simpson. Simpson has taken over the chair that was vacated by Harry Neale, and the colour commentary has not skipped a beat — in fact most would say it has actually improved. Simpson’s insight of a former player is actually refreshing in that he doesn’t preach, but rather attempt to point out things that aren’t caught in a manner that evokes a better sense of understanding in the viewer. He doesn’t scream (ahem, Pierre), he just makes an effort to point out what may have been missed by a viewer stuck watching what those in the broadcasting trailer choose to show.

However, as Poison once said, every rose has it’s thorns. It actually may be even more fitting that Poison was the artist of that 80s hair metal jam, because that’s exactly what ex-goaltender (read: funnel) Glenn Healy is to the team of Hughson and Simpson. Healy’s often abrasive manner in expressing what he finds relevant is much too much in the way of frustrating for a hockey fan, as he chimes in only when he has something negative to say and does so with a hint of arrogance in his voice. It has been a tough enough task to deal with him every Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, but for a seven game series, the prospect of Healy not being muffled at all is horrifying, to say the least. Through two games, I am sure many of us have already had our fill of him. Healy is, for sake of comparison, the Pierre McGuire of Canadian hockey broadcasts. Keep in mind that McGuire is often featured alongside TSNs crew. Now I’ll wait as the American viewers count their lucky stars.

Done? Perfect. Moving on.

Between periods the action has been broken up with a few segments which have become staples of the network’s hockey telecast. Every game night, we know it’s coming, and it often doesn’t disappoint whether you’re a fan or not. Yes, I’m talking about Coaches Corner. Don Cherry makes another appearance in our living rooms and sports bars next to his best pal Ron Maclean, dropping on us his knowledge with ever increasingly senile ideas. Cherry, always adorned in an eye-popping and head-shake-worthy suit, will break down the first stanzas action and gives us several “Cherry-isms.” Credit must be given where it is due, however, as Donald S. has been giving praise to those warriors who often aren’t seen in the headlines of post game wraps. Whether you loathe him or love him, Cherry does spice it up in between periods and is often worth at least a chuckle, be it with or at him. That’s something we can all enjoy… at least for another few years before he goes even further the way of the Fonz and jumps the shark.

If you’re not a fan of Cherry’s at all, you should at least applaud CBC for it’s ability to give the viewer a different opinion through the first two games through the “iDesk.” The iDesk features stories from around the league often supplemented by online content via Twitter or one of many hockey-centric blogs from around the web. Jeff Marek and Scott Morrison run the segment and, though it is really in it’s infancy, it has been an excellent idea and something that brings uniqueness to the broadcast. It is a true feature that they can call their own, as the Maclean/Cherry formula has seen attempts at replication several times. Even if you choose to watch the games on NBC, the intermission coverage given by the iDesk is worth five minutes of your time during both extended breaks, as it makes appearances flanking the aforementioned Coaches Corner in the first and After 40 Minutes in the second.

After 40 Minutes, a long running segment for the telecast, usually features the face of CBC hockey, Maclean, once again. In game two, the viewers were treated to an interview with Blackhawks legend and Hall of Famer Stan Mikita. Many things could be said about Maclean, but his ability to interview the stars of the game, both past and present, should never be denied as he has a certain professional flare that really makes the interview his own. With Mikita, Maclean did more of the same and the legend voiced his feelings and opinions on all things about the Blackhawks and the Finals. His interview with Mikita was excellent, even if Mikita was giving his best hockey answers, and further interviews during these next several games are something to look forward to.

As each night’s action comes to a close, we get a short post game report from outside both dressing rooms with a player interview from each team. Oake and Friedman drop in again to guide us through the interviews and, as the evening closes out, we are treated to a bit of post game. The coverage of the press conferences has been lacking, as the network often chooses to cut to the National (Canada wide news coverage), something that I am certain all of us diehard hockey fans would love to be able to catch a bit of.

It is tough to complain about a lack of post game as anyone with an internet connection and a real want to get that information can easily go online and watch it, but it is without a doubt something that could easily be added to complete the package and wrap up the night nicely. I am sure it would be met with high praise, too, as some of the best quotes and interviews come after a game when the players are either elated or feeling the pressure of a tough loss in the biggest series of their respective seasons.

All in all, games one and two have been what Canadians have come to expect of CBCs coverage. Ron and Don and the rest of the crew dropping in to our households to give us our fix. As time goes on, you have got to think this act is getting tired, though. Throughout the other rounds, it was refreshing to have the option of watching the games on TSN and get the TSN Panel with Duthie, Dreger, Mackenzie et al. CBC has been doing well enough, but the idea of alternating broadcast networks for the Finals is an idea that should really be thrown around, as it is almost becoming old hat on the country’s largest network.

You can’t blame the network for anything they have done and really, their coverage has been well done as one would come to expect from the Canadian media giant, but when we are only given the chance to see what they can put out there without TSN being given the chance to shine, it seems a bit tainted. The remainder of the series has been well done, but you can’t help but feel they could be done better if there was some competition. Competition brings out the best in everyone, maybe it’s time CBC had some.

Jared Clinton is the editor of Cycle Down Low.

Kevin Smith to Do Thing That is Awesome

Welcome to SModcastle!  It’s Kevin Smith’s Devils-themed (and supposedly eventually Oilers-themed) theater/palace for fans to come check out Smith and producing partner Scott Mosier’s live podcasts, the always cleverly titled “Smodcasts”.  The place will also be a home to some of the following events, according to Kevin’s Twitter via News Askew:

Scaling SModCastle: @CamelToad found what may be our permanent home! Coming soon, perhaps: LiveSMod every Sat! NormalSMod every Sunday!

The SModcastle programming we’re planning is DOPE: Live SMods, Commentary screenings, NHL 10 xBox tourney on giant screen, standup & more…

Via @2012F “So for the vast majority of us this is an extra smod once in a while?” Saturday Night: Live Nude SMod. Sunday: traditional SMod.

Via @tlm2021 “Did you just buy an entertainment venue on a whim?” Don’t be ridiculous, sir: I’m leasing it annually. Oh, the fun we’ll have!

Via @thelinear “‘SModcastle! I want to play NHL 10 there” Monthly tourneys. The 12 winners play for the Varadi Cup at year’s end.

Via @HeavyRaines17 “Any fear of Smoverexposure for Smod?” Because of a 50 seat theater? Nah. As long as it stays funny/free, it’s all good.

Via @r_vance_b “not all Devils jerseys” Devils & Oilers only. I want SModcastle interior to look like my office & feel like my living room.

So there you go.  I love how into the sport Kevin’s gotten.  It does my heart good to see a Devil fan devoting his public space to the team.  Maybe I’ll get a trip to LA someday and go see the castle.  If anyone’s in the area and does attend, feel free to report back.

“Chelsea Dagger” Heads to iTunes Top 10 as Blackhawks Get Toward “Craze” Levels

The Fratellis were a rock n’ roll band from Glasgow, Scotland.  That’s right, were.  You may not know this, but earlier this year, the band (who’s highest charting performance in this country was with the Fraggle Rock-aping “Flathead”, which hit #64 of the US Pop 100 in 2007, and whom I saw open for The Police) decided to call it quits, with artistic differences or whatever rock stars use as an excuse these days whenever they decide they can’t stand each other anymore.

It is truly a shame that they did decide to go away, because their music has laid claim to a revival as the omnipresent victory/goal song of the Chicago Blackhawks.  Also used in commercials to promote beer, the song has caught on with hockey fans and Blackhawk bandwagoners everywhere.  Yesterday, it was #7 in the Alternative section of the iTunes chart, which measures how many purchases songs in that genre get.  It was behind only songs by bands like Muse, Paramore and 3oh!3, and ahead of songs by the makes of Coldplay, Kings of Leon and Green Day.  It’s #116 among all songs on iTunes right now, near songs by Owl City and far ahead of Christina Aguilera’s new single.  That’s buying power, kids.

Big TV ratings and merchandise sales are one thing.  Reviving the commercial viability of a one-hit wonder (in this part of the world) alternative rock band from Scotland?  That tells you that the Blackhawks have hit the zeitgeist.  At the very least in Chicago, but they’re clearly building a following around North America.  I’d love to see “Chelsea Dagger” go even higher, which I imagine it will do if the Hawks win the Cup.  Hell, lets get The Fratellis to reunite for the Stanley Cup parade!

A Rare Chance For Me to Say “Not As Cool As the One With Coldplay”

Check out the Game 1 and 2 CBC openings.