The Blues have worked their way up in the national television pecking order. Not all the way up, but they finally are landing on one of the two NBCUniversal networks that regularly show NHL games.
After the first five contests of their playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets were spread across overflow outlets NHL Network, CNBC and USA, the Blues’ first-round matchup makes its way to NBCSN on Saturday night.
But it’s by default — NBC and NBCSN, the primary NHL outlets of parent company NBCUniversal, have all the Saturday games. There are no leftover contests for the secondary choices.
The big boy, NBC (KSDK, Channel 5 locally), has the day’s two other contests — Dallas-Nashville and Carolina-Washington.
But the fact the Blues are facing a team from Canada, where NBC does not get ratings, has contributed to the series thus far being the only one of the eight opening-round matchups that hasn’t appeared on over-the-air’s NBC or cable’s NBCSN.
All the Blues’ playoff contests to date have also been shown on Fox Sports Midwest, their local TV outlet, and as expected most of the team’s fans have chosen the home-town production over the national presentation.
Through the first four games, FSM’s telecasts were being seen in an average of 8.2 percent of homes in the market with a TV, with the network coverage drawing a 0.7 rating. The figures are according to Nielsen, which tracks viewership.
Interestingly, the two contests in the series that were scheduled to start at the unpopular time of 8:30 p.m. (the puck actually wasn’t dropped until 8:44 both nights) averaged a 9.2 rating. The earlier starts (7:10 p.m., 6:39 p.m.) averaged 8.6.
On Saturday, when Game 6 is to start shortly after 6 p.m., regular FSM Blues announcers John Kelly (play-by-play) and Darren Pang (analysis) have the call. NBCSN’s broadcasters are Brendan Burke on play-by-play with analysis provided by former NHL center Ray Ferraro, who finished his 18-year career by playing 15 games with the Blues in the 2001-02 season.
Win or lose for the Blues, FSM is done showing their games after the first round. NBC’s outlets have exclusive U.S. rights to the remainder of the playoffs.
BY THE NUMBERS
Television ratings in St. Louis for the first four games of the Blues-Jets playoff series:
GAME FSM NAT’L TOTAL
1 7.0 0.2 7.2
2 8.1 0.6 8.7
3 9.1 0.9 10.0
4 8.6 1.2 9.8
Avg. 8.2 0.7 8.9
Notes • The rating is the percent of homes with a TV tuning in. National networks: Game 1, NHL Network, others CNBC
Source • Nielsen