The Big Ten Network is hoping a new winter weekend double-sport format will increase ratings.
“Frozen Fridays” a year ago included a Big Ten hockey doubleheader and a pregame show. This year, the Frozen Friday format will include a hockey game packaged with another sport, with the same school or schools competing.
This weekend, for example, the Gophers men’s hockey team plays Michigan on Friday night at 5:30 on BTN, and Gophers-Michigan wrestling will follow at 8 p.m.
“Whether it’s Wisconsin wrestling leading into hockey or another sport, we hope we can leverage already passionate fan bases watching their school,” said Michael Calderon, BTN vice president of programing and digital media. “We had several conversations and worked very collaboratively with the conference with scheduling. It’s important in the winter to make sure we’re maximizing the Big Ten sports with the right audiences.”
The Gophers will be a part of this format again on Jan. 30, when the wrestling team faces Iowa on BTN followed by the Gophers-Wisconsin men’s hockey game.
BTN didn’t offer specific ratings for hockey games, but said the Twin Cities market dominated viewership last year.
“We were very pleased with year one of Big Ten hockey, and we still view Big Ten hockey on the Big Ten networks as sort of a longer-term investment,” Calderon said. “We know the market is very strong in Minneapolis with Gophers hockey, and we’re trying to broaden that interest and take it to more regional and national homes.”