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Preds Collecting Record TV Ratings Along With Playoff Wins

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are off to a great start in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, winning a first-round matchup against the Detroit Red Wings in five games to earn a trip to the second round for the second consecutive season. But Nashville’s on-ice performance hasn’t been the only success: A record number of area TV viewers are tuning in to watch the Predators’ quest for the Stanley Cup.

For Game 4 of the Detroit series, the Predators broadcast on SportSouth drew a 5.0 rating in the Nashville market—the highest ever for a Predators-produced broadcast. In layman’s terms, that equates to 51,000 households and 117,300 viewers. Series-clinching Game 5, also broadcast on SportSouth, beat that, registering a 5.2.

Games 1 and 2 (also on SportSouth) drew a 4.5 and 3.8 rating, respectively. Game 3, which was televised nationally on NBC, drew a 4.4 rating in the Nashville market.

Prior to the 2012 playoffs, the previous Predators broadcast record was 4.8. That mark was set first on May 9, 2011, for Game 6 of the Predators-Canucks second-round series in lasts season’s playoffs. A 4.8 rating is equivalent to 115,000 viewers.

“People are stopping, taking notice and making time to insure that this is on their radar,” says Chris Parker, Predators Executive Vice President, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer.

Parker credits the growth to the Predators’ ability to forge a deepening partnership with FS Tennessee/SportSouth in recent years and an overall increase in attention and fan interest. FS Tennessee broadcasted a franchise-record 68 regular season Predators games in 2011-12. All 41 road games were televised for the first time in franchise history. In addition, offering Predators fans the opportunity to tune in to familiar broadcasters Pete Weber and Terry Crisp during playoff action has been key.

“The fact that we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to broadcast several games in playoff rounds one and two last season, and then this year to be able to broadcast four of the first five games through our local partner, SportSouth/FS Tennessee, I think that that has been significant,” Parker says. “We’ve built a loyal following. That loyal following is continuing to grow and expand.”

The on-ice success of the Predators, who have assembled their most promising team in years, is clearly a factor in that growth. The team finished in fourth place in the Western Conference, clinching home ice in its first round matchup for just the third time in franchise history. Facing longtime rival the Detroit Red Wings in the first round has only amplified the storyline.

“It’s a credit to the success of the team and our fierce rivalry with Detroit that our ratings are up,” says Bob Kohl, Predators senior director of broadcasting.
“We obviously built up more of a following on television by broadcasting a record number of regular season games this year,” Kohl adds. “Our regular season ratings were up 40 percent over the 2010-11 regular season.”

The year-over-year playoff ratings have seen even more significant growth. Just compare this season’s Game 1 rating of 4.8 with the 1.2 registered for last season’s Game 1 against Anaheim, which was broadcast on FS Tennessee. Credit a growing Predators audience within the Nashville Metro area, but the Predators’ expanding fan base throughout Tennessee and neighboring states is playing a role as well, according to Parker.

“Whether it’s in Knoxville or in Chattanooga or in Memphis or even in outlying areas like Louisville, we’re seeing significant followings and significant ratings for our games,” Parker says.

Nationwide, the Predators Game 3 matinee on NBC scored a 1.5 overnight rating—the best overnight score for a Preds game on NBC, according to hockey media news site Puck the Media. While national numbers can be a bit tougher to parse when it comes to which team’s fans are watching, the high ratings in the Nashville market this post-season are evidence of a loyal Predators following that is growing.

“Those people know that this is the most exciting time of year,” Parker says. “They know that this is the most nerve-racking time of year. They know this is the most important time of year. They want to be included. They want to be in the know. They want to be plugged in to what’s going on with the team because they know how prominent a role we’re playing in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.”

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