Blackhawks tell Hurley and the gang to get "Lost"


Sorry Hurley, but Chicagoans preferred the heroics of the Blackhawks’ Dustin Byfuligen on Sunday.

When it came to the ratings on Sunday, not even the Smoke Monster was no match for Dustin Byfugulien.

According to Phil Rosenthal’s Tower Ticker blog, Sunday afternoon’s NHL Western Conference Final Game 4 between the San Jose Sharks and the Chicago Blackhawks averaged a 14.1 Nielsen household rating  and a 32 share locally on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV, outdrawing every primetime program in Chicago, including the heavy-hyped series finale of Lost (9.3) and the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice (10.3).

Among adults 25-54 (adult 18-49 numbers were not available), the Blackhawks did a 10.4/40, while Lost did a 8.8/21, and Apprentice did a 6.8/16.

Nationally, the game averaged a 2.0 household ratings, up from a 1.5 for a Blackhawks-Red Wings playoff game a year ago.

From 4:45 to 5:00, the Blackhawks game peaked at 714,000 households (which translated into more than one million viewers!), going down as perhaps the most-watched hockey telecast in Chicago history. Just minutes earlier, Dustin Byfugulien scored the game-winning goal to put the Hawks ahead for good.

The Blackhawks beat the Sharks 4-2 and swept the Sharks 4-0 to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992. The Finals begin on Saturday, where they will play the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 at the United Center. Games 1 and 2  and 5 through 7 are airing on NBC, while Games 3 and 4 will be seen on Versus.

The finals are a boon for WMAQ (and its NBC O&O sister station in Philadelphia, WCAU), who will no doubt provide plenty of pre-game and post-game coverage on nights when a Finals game is taking place on NBC. The matchups are also good for NBC, which get the third-largest and fourth-largest markets, respectively. There is also another storyline – the Cup drought for both teams: the Flyers at 35 years, the Blackhawks at 49 years, the longest in the NHL.

The 14.1 rating the Blackhawks earned Sunday set another viewing record for the team, besting the previous high set in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Friday night on Versus, which did an 11.1 locally.

The Blackhawks have also been good for Comcast SportsNet, whose Game 3 of a Western Conference Semifinal against Vancouver set an all-time vieweing record for the regional sports net.

As for Lost, the series finale drew just 13.5 million viewers and a 5.8 rating among adults 18-49. While the number will definitely go up due to online and DVR viewing – and giving ABC an important victory on the final Sunday night of the May sweeps, the numbers are a disappointment given all the hype. In fact, the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy last Thursday (at 15.2 million) drew more viewers than the series finale of Lost. These facts on Lost’s numbers Sunday night are apparently “lost” on the trade press and many message board posters.

As for the episode itself, it was well done. Lost was about the characters of course, but the real star of the show was the island itself – the polar bears, the Smoke Monster, a group of people called The Others, and the inhabitants jumping back and forth through time – this wasn’t Gilligan’s Island as you can tell – nobody here got hit with the skipper’s hat – no, people here often got their ass kicked. Lost was probably the best drama on television the last six years, with a lot of mystery, intrigue, and just plain weirdness that kept viewers coming back for more.

And for those who complain about Lost not giving any answers to some of the questions…isn’t what makes art great is leaving some questions go unanswered?