Should NBC Pick Tampa-Chicago for Game of the Week After First Match-up Draws Good Numbers For VERSUS?

This story is going to be Part 1 of my campaign this week to get NBC to choose Tampa Bay vs. Chicago as the April 3rd Game of the Week over Rangers-Flyers and Wild-Red Wings. I can’t honestly say I’ll have any further arguments on the case, but I think this could make a pretty strong point. However, it will likely be a better game than either of the other two, and the numbers for the two teams’ first game this season shows that there is a substantial interest in both outside of local markets.

VERSUS’ “bonus” telecast of the Wednesday night game between Chicago and Tampa Bay drew 285,000 viewers. The game did not air on VERSUS in Chicago, though it did in Tampa Bay. Comcast Sportsnet aired the game in the Windy City. This was the most-watched game of the season on VERSUS when either local market had been blacked out. The only prior bonus game even close to Wednesday night was the much-ballyhooed Montreal-Boston grudge match on February 9th, which scored 263,000 viewers.

The Wednesday night broadcast drew nearly as many viewers as the network’s two exclusive games that week, Washington-Tampa Bay (341,000 viewers) and Colorado-Minnesota (299,000). The episode of Hockey Central that aired after Blackhawks-Lightning had higher viewers (125,000) than the episode that aired after the games on Monday (111,000) or Tuesday (120,000). Tuesday night drew the most viewers of the week for NHL Overtime (45,000). The game out-drew 23 exclusive VERSUS games this season.

So, here you are NBC. 285,000 folks who were either Tampa fans, out-of-town fans or were just curious to check out the Blackhawks and Lightning watched. You can pick another potential snoozer between the Rangers and Flyers, another re-peat, somewhat dull pick in Wild-Red Wings, or you can take this. Give Steven Stamkos a national platform for the first time in his career, show a team outside of your typical 7 (Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Capitals, Bruins, Red Wings, Blackhawks) that really deserves the stage and a chance to get the same 0.8 final rating that the league seems to get whether they have an “established” match-up or not.

Do the correct thing and get this game on the air.

(Source: Son of the Bronx)


About Steve Lepore
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