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Blue Jackets Gain on TV, Lose at The Gate

Jason Barrett

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Columbus Blue Jackets fans apparently haven’t wanted to leave their couches amid the team’s woeful start.

Television ratings on Fox Sports Ohio climbed in October from a year earlier, but smaller crowds turned out at Nationwide Arena during the first five home games.

From opening night through Oct. 31, a 23-day stretch in which the Jackets posted a 2-10 record, an average 10,500 households tuned in to watch games on Fox Sports Ohio, according to Nielsen ratings.

The 1.16 household rating over that span was up 54 percent from the first 12 games of the prior season, an increase that the regional sports network attributes to several factors outweighing the team’s poor performance.

“Generally, yes, ratings tend to correlate with team performance,” General Manager François McGillicuddy said in an email. “However, the increase we’ve seen in Blue Jackets ratings are a result of several things – the Jackets’ strong finish last season, the anticipation coming into this season, the great matchups early in the season, and the dedicated fans that remain engaged, passionate and committed to this team.”

The Blue Jackets’ woeful play led to the firing of head coach Todd Richards, and though the team has improved under the leadership of John Tortorella, it remains in last place with a 3-10 record.

Despite the upswing in TV viewers, attendance at Nationwide Arena through five home games hasn’t kept pace.

The Blue Jackets ranked 25th of 30 NHL teams with 14,774 fans per game, down 5 percent from last year’s full-season average 15,511 in 41 home contests, according to ESPN.com.

President Mike Priest said last year that an average of 16,000 fans – of an 18,500 capacity – is one ingredient needed to make the team profitable.

Credit to the Columbus Business Journal who originally published this article

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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NFL

The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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