Thread: Pens Tidbits
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Old 02-14-2007, 03:05 PM   #994
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

On the air with Smizik: Penguins a smash TV hit

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Everyone wants to watch the Penguins.

The team is playing to 95 percent capacity at home, and that should get better as the games become more crucial. Away from Mellon Arena, the Sidney Crosby Show also plays to 95 percent capacity, third best in the NHL.

On television, fans in the region can't get enough. The ratings are the best since the 2000-01 season, when the Penguins reached the conference final and had a roster loaded with the kind of talent that turns on TVs -- Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka, Robert Lang and Darius Kasparaitis.

In their game Feb. 4 (Super Bowl Sunday) at Montreal, the Penguins achieved a 7.2 rating, which, for hockey, is off the charts.

FSN Pittsburgh, which carries Penguins games, would not divulge the season-long ratings or compare the Penguins' ratings to those of the Pirates. Steve Tello, vice-president and general manager of FSN Pittsburgh, said: "Team popularity and TV ratings are a roller-coaster ride. We happen to be riding at the top of the curve right now."

Industry sources indicate the Penguins' ratings are, roughly, at the 4.5 level, extremely good for the NHL. The Penguins are believed to be in the upper tier of NHL ratings with Buffalo and Detroit.

Pittsburgh had the second-highest rating for the NHL All-Star Game, which was played Jan. 24 in Dallas and shown on Versus. Nationally, the game drew only a 0.7 rating. But in Pittsburgh it drew a 2.8, twice as large as any city in the league, except Buffalo. The Buffalo ratings were incredible, a 7.1. The Sabres had four players in the game and three starters. Crosby was the Penguins' only representative.

Unfortunately for the NHL, the ratings spike in Pittsburgh and Buffalo, where the All-Star Game was the top-rated cable show that night, and are not being replicated around the country.

The game's 0.7 rating, an estimated 475,000 viewers, was a 76 percent decline from the last game, which was played in 2004. Much of that decline has to do with the network. In 2004, the game was on ABC, which is seen in every home in the country and was viewed by an estimated 1,985,000 households. Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network) reaches only a small percentage of the homes.

Although the game did well in Buffalo and Pittsburgh, it was not among the top 20 cable shows in such important markets as New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. In Dallas, the host city, it was the 18th most-watched cable program.


Playoffs on TV


In the likely event they make it, most Penguins games in the first two rounds of the playoffs will be carried by FSN.

Here's how the NHL playoff coverage works.

In the first round, NBC has the ability to take up to two weekend games for exclusive coverage. All other Penguins games will be on FSN. In the second round, NBC has the right to take two weekend games and Versus has the right to take two games. All other Penguins games will be on FSN.

In all likelihood, no more than one game in each round would be taken from FSN. After the second round, all games will be on Versus or NBC. Versus is available on the basic package to customers of Comcast, the region's largest cable provider. On Armstrong, the region's No. 2 provider, Versus is available only to digital-plus customers.
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