Oh, Darling

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling.

Led by rookie goalie, Blackhawks score huge ratings Sunday and Tuesday 

Other Chicago teams see ratings increases

It’s playoff season and Chicago viewers are showing up in droves.

Last Sunday’s third game in the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators scored a whopping 12.0 household live-plus-same day rating locally for NBC’s WMAQ, easily trouncing competing programming. The Blackhawks won the game thanks to the solid goaltending of Scott Darling, who replaced starter Corey Crawford in goal.

A triple-overtime game featuring both teams Tuesday night earned a whopping 10.3 household live-plus-same day rating, with a peak of 469,000 homes around 10:30 p.m. The game still did a 7.1 rating at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, when Brent Seabrook scored the winning goal for the Blackhawks. Impressive, given the late hour.

Chicago isn’t the only place where hockey ratings are hot – Saturday’s Game 2 between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues scored the highest first-round household live-plus-same day rating for a hockey game ever on KARE in Minneapolis, with a 8.9. In New York, WNBC scored a first-round playoff record in primetime, earning a 3.9 rating in New York for a primetime Penguins-Rangers game.

Despite the strong numbers, ratings for national coverage of the first round of the NHL playoffs were down from a year ago on NBC as regular-season numbers for the league haven’t been spectacular.

In other sports ratings news, the Chicago Cubs’ resurgence continues with WLS-TV hitting a season high for last Friday’s telecast featuring much talked-about minor-leaguer Kris Bryant, who played in his first major-league game for the North Siders.

The afternoon game against San Diego earned a 4.7 household live-plus-same day rating, up 18 percent from the April 8th game against St. Louis, the first locally-televised Cubs game on ABC 7 in 66 years. However, Bryant went 0-for-3 in a losing effort for the Cubs. Still, telecasts’ ratings are up from this time last year – particularly on CSN.

The White Sox also received some good ratings news – so far this season, their ratings are up 13 percent from last year, though they still trail the other teams in town.

And while numbers for the Bulls first two playoff games aren’t yet available, ratings for regular-season games locally on CSN were up 56 percent from a year ago, despite Derrick Rose playing in a little over half of them. On a national basis however, Bulls games- without Derrick Rose – often hit season-lows for the NBA, notably on ABC which featured a slew of Bulls games this season. Keep in mind it’s superstars who drive the ratings in the league, not market size.

Despite national ratings struggles as of late, Chicago teams are still a huge draw – and as long as the Bulls and Blackhawks stay in the playoff race and as the Cubs and White Sox continue to improve on the field, it going to provide headaches for competing networks with entertainment fare – particularly on the broadcast side as several hit shows (The Big Bang Theory, American Idol, Family Guy, etc.,) have already hit season lows.

And don’t forget, none of the broadcast networks have a series powerful as Empire in their lineup as we head into the May sweeps.

The Sherman Report, Sports Media Watch, and Chicago Business Journal contributed to this post.