Posted on: October 14, 2008 10:18 pm

NHL opener scores record Versus ratings

Two sources posted the NHL opening night game between the Detroit Red Wing and Toronto Maple Leafs was the most watched regular season game for the network. This is great news in my opinion.

From John Consoli Mediaweek:
The Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs season opening National Hockey League game on Versus network on Oct. 9 was the most-watched regular season game ever on the network, drawing 572,897 viewers.
The game was part of a doubleheader telecast that night. The other game, the Boston Bruins vs. the Colorado Avalanche, which drew more than 300,000 viewers. The combined games averaged 413,892 viewers, a 33 percent increase over the opening night doubleheader on Versus last season.
The two games cumulatively showed big gains in male audience, with men 18-34 up 82 percent, men 18-49 up 57 percent, and men 25-54 up 45 percent.

And from Kevin Allen at USAToday:
Thursday's telecast of the Toronto Maple Leafs' 3-2 win vs. the Detroit Red Wings was the most-watched regular-season game on Versus in terms of households (360,944) and total viewers (572,897).
Versus also had its best-ever opening-night ratings, with its Detroit Red Wings-Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins-Colorado Avalanche doubleheader. The combined average viewership of the two games was up 17% (353,269 to 413,892) from last year.
Category: NHL
Posted on: August 9, 2008 7:31 pm

IRL joins NHL on Versus

The IndyCar Series will switch networks.
ABC will still show five races, but the rest will move from ESPN to Versus. I couldn't be happier. This is great news in my opinion. More leagues and sports need to jump on the Versus bandwagon. Like with the NHL, Versus will provide more coverage than the four-letter did. Other race fans I've talked to are happy about the move too.
Yet the the Indianapolis Star only published negative fan reactions. Though the headline is positive - IRL to get more TV time on Versus. The comments on that story are about 50-50. I can't believe so many people are negative toward the change.
It doesn't really matter much to me what those negative fans think; I'm really happy a majority of IRL races will be on Versus next year instead of the four-letter. This move is a positive, and I couldn't be happier about it. The four-letter's coverage of the IRL has been mostly dismal. I've blogged about it. Speaking of dismal - right now the four-letter is showing women's little league softball. Switching to Versus will be a good thing.
Here's Versus' take.
I'm so stoked about this move, it's beyond belief.
When the NHL moved to Versus many of its fans felt the same way, negatively, when it moved. Probably most still do. By all accounts it was a shaky first year, yet Versus' broadcasts have improved steadily.
With racing though, Versus, formerly OLN, is well steeped in that type of coverage with its Tour de France broadcasts. While Versus is in 23 million fewer homes, the network will more than make up for it with more extensive coverage.
I see this move as another blow, and it's a good thing, to the so-called "sports leader."
This announcement is like a big birthday present to me from Tony George. So thank you Mr. George; I appreciate it.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: ESPN, IRL, NHL, Versus
Posted on: April 19, 2008 2:55 pm

Wealth of NHL outlets, ESPN rant

Fans of the NHL have it pretty good in my opinion, despite ESPN's hatred of the League.
I was in the Philadelphia area the other morning and watched SportsRise again.
Another NHL player bump, and the show started out with about 10 minuets of a recent Flyers - Capitals playoff game. Outstanding. This is what I'd like to see for every game, especially during the playoffs. Versus should have this amount of in-depth coverage. Every sports network should, especially one that bills itself as the world wide leader.
Anyway, about the same time last week when I was raving about the improvements to NHL.com, Eric McErlain wrote an article that the NHL has a wealth of outlets. I had meant to comment on all he did, but instead focused on NHL.com. He has some really good points, and I agree with him.
By the way, the NHL.tv improvements there are pretty impressive. That's where the NHL made the upgrades as far as I can tell. Seven channels of NHL goodness. I have two complaints, and they're pretty minor - commercials and the look and feel. If the advertisements were of a beer I liked, they'd be easier to swallow. Also if the look and feel were more Mac-like, then I wouldn't complain about that at all.
Anyway there are many outlets for the NHL besides online - Fox regional networks, Versus,  and NBC in the states. Also there's CenterIce and the NHL Network. I'm sure there is a wealth of coverage in Canada already. In any case, I'm tired of many fans who say the NHL should be back on ESPN. With the wealth of other outlets the League doesn't need the four-letter network.
Excuse my while I rant, but the League went with two other American networks post-lockout - NBC and Versus. Versus caters more to the League's liking. Versus, then OLN, offered more money than ESPN, if it even did. I can't remember now and would have to do some research. Research I've done numerous times, each time I read fans advocating the League go back to the four-letter network. By the way, three ESPN employees - Colin Cowherd, Mike Greenberg and president George Bodenheimer, routinely ridicule the NHL. Many more of its employees do too. This obviously starts from the top and continues all the way down. The company's employees make it a very harsh environment for the NHL. Given that, it doesn't make sense to me why the League would want ESPN to broadcast it's games. Sure it's in more homes, but that isn't good enough. It has to be willing to show games and showcase the League in other ways, which it didn't. A classic example of this but in another sport is the IRL on ESPN. That should be a symbiotic relationship, but I bet it isn't in IRL's view. I know it isn't to IRL fan and writer Robin Miller. I heard  him the other day with JMV on WNDE that during a recent SportsCenter the talking heads spent all of 44 seconds mentioning Graham Rahal's win. The talking heads then went back to NFL coverage. IRL is in season now, the NFL is not. This is a classic example and there are many others of how the four-letter network treats leagues it doesn't like or favor. This is the same way the it treats the NHL now and when it broadcasted NHL games. The network ditched NHL2Night in 2003 - pre-lockout and when it broadcasted NHL games. Add to all this ESPN would rather showcase its own talking heads and make them celebrities, than cover sports in a meaningful way, there is absolutely NO reason for the NHL to go back to ESPN. Pardon me; rant completed.
Anyway, it's been more than a month since I started my ESPN boycott. Aside from occasionally seeing it when I channel surf, or when I am at a sports bar, I'm doing pretty well. I am missing some baseball games and IRL races, so that hurts. Still, hockey takes precedence, and I will continue with my boycott. I'd be more upset if I watched it than if I don't.
Category: NHL
Tags: ESPN, IRL, JMV, NBC, NHL, Versus, WNDE
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com