Odd-Man Rush for NHL Ratings


Regional channels owned by FSN won ratings faceoffs on the opening night of the 2005-06 National Hockey League season.

All six of the regional sports networks owned by FSN that televised NHL action Oct. 5 notched ratings improvements when measured against the first night of the 2003-04 season. The 2004-05 campaign was iced by a labor dispute.

In “Hockey Town,” FSN Detroit pulled an 8.1 household rating Oct. 5 for its coverage of the Red Wings within the Detroit DMA, according to Nielsen Media Research. That marked a 3% rise from the 7.9 during the corresponding night in 2003.

FSN Pittsburgh -- bolstered no doubt by interest in highly touted rookie Sidney Crosby -- ranked second in terms of ratings, garnering a 7.1 mark in the DMA, a 122% jump over the Penguins’ 2003-04 season-starter.

Sun Sports recorded a 257% surge to a 2.5 rating in the Tampa Bay DMA with its coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the defending champions finally got to raise their Stanley Cup Champion banner.

Elsewhere, FSN Midwest rang up a 24% advance to a 2.1 for the St. Louis Blues opener; FSN Ohio registered a 67% gain to a 2.2 with its coverage of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ return to the ice; and FSN Arizona pulled a 140% improvement to a 1.2% with the Phoenix Coyotes game, which marked Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky’s first contest behind the bench as coach.

As for other affiliated regional networks, FSN Bay Area scored a 200% rise to a 1.5 with its coverage of the San Jose Sharks Oct. 5.

For its part, New England Sports Network scored a 107% increase to a 2.9 in the Boston DMA with the Boston Bruins being back and a 120% gain to a 2.2 in neighboring Providence, R.I. Those ratings would have likely been higher, but the Bruins game clashed head-to-head with a Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball playoff game that night.