Wild games becoming top priority for local viewers

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2008 - 8:29 PM

The team is successful on the ice, and its TV ratings are way up.

The Wild hasn't only been delivering on the ice this season. The Northwest Division leaders have shown significant gains in their television ratings from this time a year ago.

The biggest beneficiary has been FSN North, which has seen its Wild ratings grow 145 percent from a 1.1 rating and 2 share to a 2.7/5 through 33 games. FSN's first five telecasts in February had a 3.8 rating, compared with a 1.1 in 2007.

KSTC, meanwhile, is up 58 percent (2.4/5 to a 3.8/7) for 19 games. (One ratings point equals 17,067 households.) The latter figures were boosted by a season-high 5.7 rating and 10 share for the Wild's 3-2 victory over Colorado on Jan. 24. That is the second-highest rated game in the team's regular-season history, behind only the first home opener on Oct. 11, 2000.

"This has been a building process for us," said Bill Robertson, Wild vice president of communications and broadcasting. "It's been a work in progress from Year 1 to where we're at now."

FSN's increase is a bit misleading. An engineering mistake by Nielsen Media Research meant that last year at this time 40 percent of the Twin Cities homes with Nielsen boxes were not measuring potential FSN North viewers. That problem wasn't identified until the spring.

"We expected the numbers to increase this season, based on the Nielsen reporting issues we experienced last year," said Mike Dimond, senior vice president and general manager of FSN North. "However, a 145 percent increase is even more significant than we expected."

Robertson cites three factors: the team's success, a favorable mix of games and start times and strong marketing that lets viewers know where to find the Wild on TV.

"People do know where to see the games on both FSN and our station," said Susan Wenz, general manager of KSTC. "Those are the main things. I know we do a lot of cross-promotion with Ch. 5 [which also is owned by Hubbard] on their news and sports and they always mention where the games are. That's helped to build the brand."

A Hollywood writers' strike decreased competition by eliminating new episodes of television shows, and the Wild has been the most attractive and easiest local team to follow on TV. The Big Ten Network has made most Gophers men's basketball games a rumor to Twin Cities cable customers, and the woeful Timberwolves are averaging about a 1.0 rating on FSN North and KSTC.

When the Wild and Wolves went head-to-head on Tuesday night, the hockey team's 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver had a 3.8 rating and 6 share on FSN; the Wolves' 104-88 victory over Philadelphia had a 1.2 rating and 2 share on KSTC.

KSTC's figures mean the most to the franchise because the team not only produces its over-the-air games but also controls much of the in-game advertising sales. It's an agreement similar to the one the Wild has with WCCO Radio (830 AM) and stands to be very profitable if this continues.

"We are getting more and more calls from potential advertisers and sponsors about being part of the broadcasts both on television and radio," Robertson said.

Dead last

How's this for apathy?

TNT's coverage of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday had a 0.8 rating in the Twin Cities, placing this market last among the 56 metered markets in the United States. That means 13,654 households in this area watched the game. By comparison, last month's NHL All-Star contest on Versus had a 2.1 rating (35,841 households) in Minneapolis-St. Paul. That placed fifth out of the metered markets.

The Twin Cities also was fifth in ratings for the Pro Bowl this month (11.2/21 share on Fox) and last summer's baseball All-Star Game (14.8 rating/27 share on Fox).

Overall, the NBA game had a 3.8 national rating. That was off 7 percent from a year ago.

Fine-tuning

• The Wild's first over-the-air high definition telecast of the season will be Sunday when it plays host to Calgary at 1 p.m. on KSTP (Ch. 5).

• The Minnesota Sports Broadcast Network will air action from the boys' section hockey tournaments on KNOF (95.3 FM) from Feb. 27-29.

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    Thursday February 21, 2008

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Pittsburgh - WP: B. Morris 8 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: S. LeCure 7
Atlanta 0 Postponed
Philadelphia 0
Chicago Cubs 0 Postponed
NY Yankees 0
Tampa Bay 0 Postponed
Baltimore 0
Cleveland 0 Postponed
Detroit 0
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - WP: T. Koehler 11
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Leake 7
Seattle - LP: B. Beavan 0 FINAL
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 5
St. Louis - WP: S. Miller 6 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Estrada 1
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 1 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 2
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 4 FINAL
Houston - LP: L. Harrell 2
Toronto - WP: A. Loup 9 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 3
NY Mets - WP: J. Mejia 9 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. Arroyo 0
Oakland - WP: J. Johnson 10 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: Y. Herrera 9
Colorado - WP: J. Nicasio 3 FINAL
San Diego - LP: R. Erlin 2
Los Angeles - LP: B. League 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 3
New York 109 FINAL
Brooklyn 98
Denver 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 117

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