An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column:
Cubs: If they win, they will watch. It didn’t take long, as the ratings already show Cubs fans are jumping back on the bandwagon.
CSN did a 4.22 rating for Cincinnati’s 3-2 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night; 1 local ratings point is worth approximately 35,000 homes. The game ranked first in primetime in Chicago in every male demographic and with everyone age 18-49.
On Monday, the Cubs’ 7-6 win over Cincinnati still pulled a 3.94 rating despite airing on CSN Plus. The game peaked with an 8 rating in the late innings.
All told, the three Cubs games on CSN averaged a 3.6 rating, more than double last year’s season average of 1.5.
And it’s just a start for the Cubs and CSN. The ratings will soar much higher with the anticipated arrival of Kris Bryant and if Jorge Soler keeps doing his thing. Nothing sells more than promise for the Cubs.
Blackhawks: An unspectacular year resulted in flat ratings. The Blackhawks averaged a 4.3 rating for the 51 regular-season games that aired on CSN, virtually the same as last year’s 4.29. However, those still are strong numbers compared to what existed just a few years ago.
Besides, it’s all about the playoffs anyway in hockey. CSN pulled a 9.76 rating Wednesday for Game 1 of the Nashville series, peaking at 13.1 in the third period. CSN was No. 1 in primetime in every demographic.
With that kind of number, the biggest Blackhawks fans outside of Chicago probably are NBC executives. After the opening series, all playoff games will air on NBC and NBCSN.
The ratings tell why NBC covets another Blackhawks run. They were involved in five of the top seven rated games on NBCSN this year. Their 11 games on NBC and NBCSN averaged a 6.10 rating in Chicago. Only Pittsburgh had a higher local rating for its national games.
The avid Chicago following, plus the mass of the nation’s third largest market, often has accounted for 20-25 percent of NBC and NBCSN’s national rating on its hockey telecasts involving the Blackhawks. It won’t be nearly the same if Nashville, the nation’s 29th market, gets past the Blackhawks.