Sharks-Wings Game 7 drew record numbers locally for CSN California and Fox Sports Detroit, Games 5&7 in top 5 for Versus, CSN regional networks to be rebranded by NBC Sports

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Saturday, May 14, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


After a pair of Eastern Conference Semifinal sweeps and a 6-game series win by Vancouver, all of the eyeballs in the hockey world were on the Sharks-Wings game 7 finale Thursday night in San Jose. After record ratings came in for both local markets, interest from casual and general sports fans was strong as well. Comcast Sportsnet California earned its highest household rating ever for a Sharks playoff broadcast with a 7.14HH average (180,000 households) that topped the previous high of 2010′s game 5 finale against Detroit which earned a 6.57. This year’s game 7 finale peaked at a 10.13HH rating (256,000+ households) in the frantic final 15 minutes as Detroit came at San Jose in waves trying to extend their season. It was only the second game 7 on home ice at HP Pavilion after the Sharks ushered Calgary out of the playoffs in 2008.

In Detroit, Fox Sports Detroit witnessed a similar surge in game 7 viewership. According to Nielsen Media Research, from the 9PM local start time to the near midnight finish, FSD recorded a 22.5HH rating (423,855 households) and a 39 share in the Detroit market. It was the highest rated broadcast on FSD, topping the previous 19.5HH/26 share mark set in Detroit for game 6. On Versus, the San Jose vs. Detroit series did extraordinarily well. Four of the Western Conference Semifinal games between the two powerhouse teams ranked in the top 10 in total viewers for Versus playoff broadcasts in 2011. A 3-goal third period comeback by Detroit in game 5 earned 1,627,000 viewers for 2nd place this post season, game 7′s finale earned 1,251,000 viewers for 4th place, and games 6 (1,021,000 viewers) and 4 (944,000 viewers) filled out the top 10 in 8th and 10th place respectively.

Nationally a number of viewers may have been watching to see if Detroit could complete a historic comeback, or to see if San Jose would continue it’s perpetual playoff frustration, but year in and year out both teams are building a reputation for delivering an entertaining brand of potent, offensive hockey. In last year’s Sharks-Wings semifinal matchup, Versus EVP Marc Fein told Sharkspage that San Jose’s roster full of household names and Detroit’s storied Stanley Cup tradition were strong draws. “It’s natural that games in this series will draw huge national interest,” Fein said. Game 2 of the 2010 WCSF between Detroit and San Jose drew a massive 1.77 million audience for Versus, the most watched semifinal playoff game on cable dating back 10 (now 11) years. The interest in two of the Western Conference’s most dominant offenses appears to be neither superficial or fleeting.

There will be more changes in store for the Comcast-owned Versus channel this offseason. After Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal, Versus may be renamed the NBC Sports Channel this summer to reflect a consistent brand across networks. Sports Media Watch noted last week that changes may also be coming to Comcast’s regional sports networks soon as well. According to a comment by NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol, Comcast’s regional sports networks may be rebranded something similar to NBC Sports Philadelphia or NBC Sports Chicago. It should impact Northern California’s two Comcast regional sports networks, CSN Bay Area and the home of the Sharks on CSN California. CSN’s regional sports network consists of 14 channels that deliver over 2,400 sporting events each year.

The broadcasts of Stanley Cup Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final games will move exclusively to Versus and NBC, but locally CSN California will ramp up it’s coverage of the playoffs as well. According to CSNCA’s sideline reporter Brodie Brazil, the ‘Sharks Postgame Live’ show was renamed ‘Sharks Playoff Central’ and will feature commentary by broadcaster Randy Hahn and analyst and former assistant coach Drew Remenda. Versus will feature a half hour ‘Hockey Central’ preview show before each Sharks-Canucks Conference Final game it broadcasts, with a half hour post-game ‘Sharks Playoff Central’ program on CSN California following the action.

A combined NBC Sports Group schedule of San Jose Sharks vs Vancouver Canucks Western Conference Final television coverage:

NBC Sports Group combined San Jose Sharks vs Vancouver Canucks WCF television schedule:

Sunday, May 15

4:30PM – Hockey Central on VERSUS
5PM – Sharks at Canucks Game 1 on VERSUS
7:30PM – Sharks Playoff Central on Comcast SportsNet California
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

Wednesday, May 18

5PM – Chronicle Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
5:30PM – Hockey Central on VERSUS
6PM – Sharks at Canucks Game 2 on VERSUS
8:30PM – Sharks Playoff Central on Comcast SportsNet Plus
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

Friday, May 20

5PM – Chronicle Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (from HP Pavilion)
5:30PM – Hockey Central on VERSUS
6PM – Canucks at Sharks Game 3 on VERSUS
8:30PM – Sharks Playoff Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (from HP Pavilion)
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

Sunday, May 22

12PM – Canucks at Sharks Game 4 on NBC
6PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

* Tuesday, May 24

5PM – Chronicle Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
5:30PM – Hockey Central on VERSUS
6PM – Sharks at Canucks Game 5 on VERSUS
8:30PM – Sharks Playoff Central on Comcast SportsNet Plus
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

* Thursday, May 26

5PM – Chronicle Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
5:30PM – Hockey Central on VERSUS
6PM – Canucks at Sharks Game 6 on VERSUS
8:30PM – Sharks Playoff Central on Comcast SportsNet California (from HP Pavilion)
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

* Saturday, May 28

4:30PM – Hockey Central on VERSUS
5PM – Sharks at Canucks Game 7 on VERSUS
7:30PM – Sharks Playoff Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
10:30PM – SportsNet Central on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

* If necessary (all times PT)

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