Washington Up, Chicago Down in NBC Local Ratings

In a season where the Capitals continue to set a record pace for their local ratings, Sunday marked yet another solid performance in the market on NBC.

Sunday’s Blackhawks/Capitals game on NBC drew a 3.4/9 rating in the Washington TV market, up slightly from the 3.3/7 the network drew in the city for the largely hyped Penguins/Capitals match-up. Ratings for the most recent Capitals game on NBC, against the Sabres on Hockey Day in America, were unavailable. They are well up from NBC’s broadcast of last year’s Capitals/Blackhawks game, which took place in Chicago (last Sunday’s game was in DC) and drew a 2.4/6, and the peak rating for that game in the market (2.9/7) wasn’t even near the average for this Sunday’s game. It isn’t anywhere close, however, to the Caps regular season peak on NBC, that well-known snow game against the Penguins last season, which scored a 5.8/11.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the game drew a fairly solid 4.0/10 in America’s #3 TV market. This is down slightly from both last season’s Caps/Hawks game, which scored a 4.4/10, and the last recorded number for a Hawks game on NBC, a 4.9/10 for their January 23rd tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers. The numbers for their February 20th showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins were unavailable at this time.

NBC Playoff Dates Through The Conference Quarters

NBC released further playoff dates for the 2011 chase for the Stanley Cup. Nothing out of the ordinary, but here is what we know:

April 16, 1PM ET
April 17, 3PM ET
April 23, 3PM ET
April 24, 3PM ET

I’ll keep following how NBC maps out it’s playoff dates throughout the rest of the Spring.

NHL Overtime Now Doing a Complete Show For the Night Owls, and Other Solid VERSUS Changes

I never did get as much info as I hoped for from my trip to Washington, though now I’ve stretched it into a second day, so I guess that’s a victory. However, there is something else that struck me hockey-wise that happened, just by luck and circumstance.

During the trip, I stayed at my uncle’s house in Baltimore, and after a night out, I got home around 1AM. I hung around for a little bit to update the website, then turned on the 2AM run of VERSUS’ NHL Overtime, mostly because I like to keep tabs on the country’s only American-produced nightly NHL highlight show. Though it did settle in with me as I sat down to watch it that it was a rerun, and therefore, would not include highlights of the Vancouver-San Jose game, which was “epic” from what I’d heard, but started late and ended well after the 11PM run of Overtime’s midnight ending. So I sat and expected to be disappointed.

However, the exact opposite happened. As affable host Liam McHugh went into what I thought would be a short Vancouver-San Jose update, it turned out to be the highlights of the entire game. Was I dreaming? Had my uncle’s cable somehow managed to get NHL Network in the few hours I was gone? I watched again on Monday night, and that too had updates of late games, and the same tonight. VERSUS has now made it so that the 2AM ET rerun of NHL Overtime is the complete wrap-up of the night in hockey. I tweeted McHugh about it, and was told they’d been doing it for awhile.

Now, there is a drawback in that the analysts are not there to break it down, but until VERSUS takes the plunge on an additional live show, or moves the show to, say, 1AM ET permanently (and it essentially will once the post-season begins) this is the best we can get, and frankly, it isn’t too bad. Just good that the show doesn’t seem like a wasted watch during it’s late night (or early morning, as an additional repeat shows at 8AM ET) airing.

In addition, I love the way they’ve tinkered with Hockey Central’s pre-game editions, which used to be a largely studio-based operation. Now, from my count, more than half the show features some element from the arena, whether it be analyst/reporters doing interviews, or a play-by-play man breaking down some statistics, or just having the studio guys talk during the On-Ice Live segment, much of the show is becoming an actual pre-game to the contest you’re about to see and less an attempt to force debate and issues. Again, this is a great idea.

Another new VERSUS wrinkle was shown off last night: for the first time since, I believe, the opening night of OLN’s coverage of the National Hockey League (when Jack Edwards was in Tampa Bay, as well as Bob Harwood in another city) they had a reporter located at a game VERSUS was not airing – in this case, Rangers/Islanders. John Boruk provided inside info from the Garden. This is a terrific idea, especially in such a jumbled Eastern Conference where every game can mean something. Hopefully, this is a chance for Bob Harwood to run out the string, as he mentioned when he’d been let go. Maybe instead of forcing chatter during six intermission reports of playoff games, we can get reporters doing live hits from games on off nights. It’d be cool for VERSUS to have a reporter at all eight Stanley Cup Playoff match-ups.

For now though, the edited in NHL Overtime and this experiment is enough to show that VERSUS is progressing since the merger with NBC, and continually in ways that are for the better, at least for hockey fans.