Derrick Rose’s new injury likely a blow to Bulls’ ratings

This is a scene Bulls fans didn't want to see again. (CBS Sports.com)

This is a scene Bulls fans didn’t want to see again. (CBS Sports.com)

CSN Chicago and WGN-TV face challenges to keep viewers 

Monday was a gray and gloomy day in Chicagoland and the city’s mood certainly matches the weather.

(And your mood is probably worst if you’re a Family Guy fan…)

Of course, we’re talking about the Derrick Rose’s second knee injury in nineteen months, suffered in a game against the Portland TrailBlazers Friday night. On Monday, the Bulls shut down their superstar for the season, including the playoffs if the Bulls are lucky to make it that far. While the NBA’s national TV partners will feel the fallout, it will be the Bulls’ local TV partners who’ll get socked hard as casual viewers flee for the exits.

Already coming off a disastrous summer of poor ratings for Cubs and White Sox baseball, both Tribune-owned WGN-TV and NBCUniversal’s Comcast SportsNet Chicago were banking on the return of Rose after an eighteen-month layoff to give their Bulls telecasts – and the entities themselves – a much-needed ratings lift. Now with Rose sitting out with another knee injury, WGN and CSN Chicago are faced with trying to draw viewers without the All-Star.

WGN-TV’s first game with Rose in the lineup this season – a November 2 game against the Philadelphia 76ers, earned a 8.5 household rating and a 4.8 in the key 18-49 demo, up considerably from last season’s average, when Rose didn’t play a single minute.

Less affected by Rose’s absence are national networks ESPN/ABC, TNT, and NBA TV. Though his absence will hurt, the NBA has plenty of other superstars to count on to make up the difference.

Despite the Bulls contention for a playoff spot last season, the team’s ratings showed double-digit declines in households and key demos from the 2011-12 season as casual viewers found something else to watch. And now with Rose gone for a second consecutive season, there’s no doubt the ratings for Bulls telecasts will drop even further.

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