Ratings from ESPN Original Entertainment’s trio of Tuesday night reality-competition shows have helped the network stem the loss of National Hockey League playoff contests.
Through four weeks of a six-week run, ESPN’s half-hour shows Teammates, ESPN’s Bowling Night and Battle of the Gridiron Stars are all averaging a 0.5 household rating, EOE executive producer Mike Antinoro said.
ESPN would not provide direct comparison ratings to Tuesday NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs telecasts, but said all replacement programming — which includes the EOE shows, pro and college baseball games and college softball telecasts — are averaging a 0.7, matching the rating for 46 NHL playoff games last year on ESPN and ESPN2.
Antinoro did say the replacement programming is reaching more 18-to-34 male viewers than 2004 NHL playoff games.
“Overall, we’re happy,” he said. “It’s tough to get traction with a weekly show, so we’re pretty happy about how these shows are doing, particularly without a lot of promotion.”
He said the network is especially smitten with Teammates, a The Newlywed Game-styled show in which members of various pro and college teams find out how much they know about each other.
Unlike Bowling, which pits pro athletes against each other on the lanes, and Gridiron Stars, in which National Football League stars face off in several events, Teammates doesn’t fit the traditional competition-based ESPN mold. Thus, there was concern the show might turn off core viewers.
“It is a personality based show [that] has really struck a cord with people,” Antinoro said. “We’ve received a lot of buzz about the show and the concept, especially from athletes who want to know when we’re doing it again.”
Despite the strong performances, ESPN hasn’t yet committed to a second season for either show.
“After the six-week run, we’ll sit back and see whether any or all of them performed well enough that we will bring them back,” Antinoro said. “It’s always a challenge to get consistent blocks on the air because we have so many live events, but these are three shows that we’ve wanted to do for a while.”
EOE will take off the month of June before bowing World Series of Poker in July. ESPN still hasn’t decided whether to retain its poker-themed series Tilt for a second season.