The Nashville Predators saw a record number of fans come through the Bridgestone Arena turnstiles during the 2011-12 campaign, with a franchise-record 25 sellouts during the regular season and five more during the playoffs. The growing Predators fan base didn’t stop at the arena doors, though: A record number of fans in Nashville and throughout the region tuned in to watch the Predators on television over the past eight months.
It’s the continuation of a trend that has been visible over the past three seasons. In the summer of 2010, the Predators and their exclusive regional television broadcast partner FS Tennessee/SportSouth signed a new four-year contract that has seen the number of Predators games that are televised increase from 55 (2009-10) to 60 (2010-11) to 68 (2011-12).
This increased commitment to the fans has been rewarded with significant gains in viewer ratings in the Nashville market over the same period. The Predators saw ratings increase 25 percent from 2009-10 to 2010-11. For the 2011-12 regular season, ratings were up 40 percent over 2010-11.
Numbers for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which tend to draw higher ratings than regular season play, also served as an indicator of the significantly growing fan base. An estimated 1,053,400 viewers tuned in to Predators playoff hockey this post-season, up from the 901,600 viewers who were estimated to watch the Preds’ playoff run in 2011. In addition, the April 20 broadcast of the Predators’ Game 5 first-round elimination of the Detroit Red Wings drew a franchise-record single game rating of 5.2.
In another franchise first, Predators fans in the Nashville market didn’t miss a single road game in 2011-12 thanks to a broadcast schedule that televised all away games. Every game shown on FS Tennessee/SportSouth, whether home or away, was broadcast in HD and was followed by the Lexus Predators Live post-game show.
The signs of fan growth haven’t been limited to the Nashville area. As part of the Preds’ agreement with FS Tennessee/SportSouth, 42 of 68 games broadcast during the 2011-12 regular season were also televised in the Atlanta market. Predators telecasts have seen consistent ratings growth in markets like Atlanta, Memphis, and Knoxville, with more fans in those cities tuning in to watch Predators regular season and playoff games than ever before.