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Caps TV Ratings on Record Pace

(By Jim McIsaac- Getty)

With the unofficial mid-point of the NHL season here, it's time to take yet another look at the Caps' TV ratings. In bullet-point style.

* Executive summary: With more than 27,000 households, on average, the Caps have tripled the Nats' TV audience, and are attracting more local TV viewers than division mates Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Florida, combined. The team's actual households number, though, is still less than half that of Pittsburgh or Philly.

* The Caps are averaging a 1.2 household rating, which is the percent of the D.C. area's 2.3 million households that are tuning in. It's the highest average rating the team has received since Comcast SportsNet was formed in 2001. The previous high at this point came in the 2001-'02 season, when the Caps pulled a 0.99. That marks a huge success.

* The current number translates into something like 27,859 households, which both makes sense (if you look at the number of clicks our Caps blog and stories receive) and is depressing (because 27,859 households ain't enough to pay my bills).

* According to CSN, ratings are up 123 percent from a year ago, while the ratings in the target demographic of 18-49 year-olds are up a whopping 153 percent. The network's ratings for Capitals Postgame Live, meanwhile, have gone up 200 percent from last year at this time.

* The highest-rated CSN games this season have been the Jan. 6 meeting with Philly, the Dec. 28 game against Toronto, the Dec. 18 game against St. Louis, the Nov. 12 divisional showdown with Carolina, and the Oct. 16 grudge match with Pittsburgh. Those games all got at least a 1.7, which translates to about 39,500 households.

* As Sports Business Journal noted this week, the Caps have the second-biggest increase in attendance in the NHL (up 29.8 percent), and the biggest increase in local TV ratings, by a lot. Only the Coyotes have also seen local ratings go up by as much as 100 percent from a year ago.

* Percent increase, though, can be a misleading stat, since it doesn't account for the past seasons, when ratings fluctuated based on whether the On Frozen Blog guys decided to watch games together or separately. So instead, let's take a look at the U.S.-wide local ratings numbers, according to SBJ. Of the 22 American markets for which data are available, the Caps have the 10th highest average rating.

* Their number is, of course, dwarfed by cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Detroit, but it's considerably better than division mates Florida, Tampa or Atlanta. (Carolina's number was not available.) Verdict: much, MUCH better, but probably still not worthy of "hockey town" status.

* But even rating feels very opaque. What I I really want to know is just how many households are watching these various teams, to prepare me for which teams will arrive with the biggest armies of fans, and which deserve more mockery than we ever heaped on the Nats' fan base. So I ran the local ratings against these DMA market numbers, and came up with the following list of average local households tuning in. Among those 22 U.S. teams, the Caps are attracting the 11th-most households.

1. N.Y. Rangers, 76,568
2. Detroit, 71,297
3. Pittsburgh, 71,006
4. Philadelphia, 65,494
5. Buffalo, 55,980
6. Boston, 52,036
7. Minnesota, 38,417
8. Chicago, 37,373
9. San Jose 30,955
10. New Jersey 28,248
11. Washington 27,859
12. Denver 25,149
13. Los Angeles 21,486
14. St. Louis 16,497
15. Anaheim 16,397
16. Columbus 13,239
17. Dallas 12,947
18. N.Y. Islanders 12,637
19. Phoenix 9,279
20. Tampa Bay 8,928
21. Atlanta 5,450
22. Florida 2,320

* Um, Florida? 2,320? Seriously?

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 21, 2009; 4:31 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Count me among the hockey converts. I started about ten years ago, but now find most other sports unwatchable. With hockey, I know I'm going to get steady action, predictable breaks for quick home chores, no interminable review of blown calls, limited TV time outs and best of all (take note NBA & NFL) just one time out per team. The end of the games are actually exciting and the players have to think for themselves! I can watch a game with my kids and still get them to bed by 10 w/ their home work done. Plus the sport is easier to watch on the wide screen TVs.

Posted by: joegoode | January 21, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

So is it something like Skins > Bullets > Caps > United > Nats although the local media treats it like Skins, Skins, Skins, Nationals, Wizards, Skins, Skins, Caps, Skins, Skins, Skins, other?

Posted by: sitruc | January 21, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I've been an avid hockey fan since around 1990, but HDTV has made it a lot easier for casual fans to follow the game. The wide screen, and improved detail has helped with the lame "i can't follow the puck" excuses which never made sense to me.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | January 21, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Maybe not "hockey town" status yet, but considering three of the top-rated games were in the past month, that means the ratings are still growing.

And considering that one of those top games was a random Thursday night game with St. Louis, people aren't just tuning in for the big games like Philly and Pittsburgh--but simply because they enjoy watching the Caps play, whoever the opponent.

Posted by: TheFingerman | January 21, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Good its nice to see if people cant go to games they still follow team.

Posted by: jg284481-5-37 | January 21, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

How do you respond Mr Simpson to the fact that while crime is down 50%, heavy sack beatings are up a whopping 200%?

Gee Kent, you can make up any stat to back up your opinion. 60% of all people know that.

Posted by: bulldog23 | January 21, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't Nashville on the list?

Are they not on TV?

Posted by: qwerty652 | January 21, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't thought about it, but I am definitely more likely to watch a random game if it is in HD. A few years ago I wouldn't have cared about quality online either. I can imagine the casual fan would like that as well. CSN normally does pretty well and it's annoying as hell when anything isn't widescreen HD.

Posted by: sitruc | January 21, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

They have television in Tennessee? Too bad they won't work next month.

Posted by: sitruc | January 21, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

How do the Capital TV ratings compare to the Wizards rating?

Posted by: pdanziger | January 21, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing Nashville is not on the list because all their games aren't on local TV (no local contract). Sad isnt it. The Caps get moved from the best division in the NHL when a team joins the league that doesnt even have all its games on TV.

Posted by: crazycaldwell | January 21, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

....60% of all people know that.

...well, touche


Go Caps!!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | January 22, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

How about some credit to Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin, the only local announcers who aren't awful? There's more dead air in a Wizards broadcast than anything with Pam Ward.

And I make it a point to read every Caps story on the Bog.

Posted by: theskinnypost | January 22, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering if those ratings take into account out of market viewers watching on something like Center Ice.

I live in Albany, New York and I've seen quite a few Caps games this season. Maybe I'm considered an outlier, but I'm certainly not the only one. There is a whole legion of NARCF's in various locations around the country...

Posted by: aybee27 | January 22, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

To theskinnypost,

I agree Locker, Beninati and Smokin' Al are all great announcers. But your insults towards Buck and Chanier are outlandish and uncalled're talking trash about the guy who brought us household phrases like "DAGGERRRR!!! BACKBREAKER!!! "how do you like that" and of course "NOT POSSIBLE!!!" You call that "dead air???" Gimme a break. As far as Buck's better half goes, Phil Chanier's cool and calm delivery is on point and a perfect compliment. Also, I always find Buckhantz's appearances on the sports reporters entertaining and insightful.

Posted by: rtramonte5500 | January 22, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I can't agree with the Caps having the only good announcers for this area. I think we are very fortunate with the announcers CSN uses for all sports. Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer, Superman and President Obama have nothing on Dave Johnson. He can do any sport and excel. You may not like the basketball pairing, but I appreciate them for being painfully unbiased at times.

Posted by: sitruc | January 22, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I also don't see Carolina on this they not have a TV deal either?

Posted by: ThisGuy | January 22, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

These numbers are great because they show so clearly that ice hockey is a regional sport. All the crappy Sun Belt expansion teams are on the bottom. No surprise there -- tiny Buffalo has almost 4 times as many households watching its games as Florida, Tampa Bay and Atlanta combined.

When is the NHL going to give up on these joke teams and return to its roots? There should be 24 teams in the NHL with alot of them Canadian. Imagine a Wales Conference with Boston, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo, Ottawa, Rangers, Devils, Flyers, Capitals and Penguins. 12th team could be Hartford or Hamilton, Ontario. Then a Campbell Conference with Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado, Vancouver, San Jose, LA and either Dallas or Phoenix. Gold.

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 22, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rachel216 | January 22, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

TV in Tennessee??? Why yes, yes we do!! Some of us even get the dang-burned satty lite tay vay. Its right nice.
And while not every game is on, the announcers are top-rate. Remember Terry Crisp, he of NHL Stanley Cup coaching resume?? (Not to mention the 2 he won as a plyer on the Flyers.) Yeah we got him. And Pete Weber is darn good too. Catch them on Center Ice sometime - you will not be disappointed.

Posted by: sobugged1 | January 22, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

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