What is the most significant loss for the Blackhawks in the three seasons since their last Stanley Cup championship?
Forget about the postseason players and series, or even postseason posts that they could not win this year for the first time in a decade.
Combined with the fact that there are fewer households with TV in this market, that represents a loss of 71,708 local households, according to Nielsen’s estimates.
The Blackhawks averaged 149,521 homes watching their games in what was then called CSN in 2014-15, but only 77,873 had the games in the NBCSCH rechurn this season.
Those numbers do not count the games chosen for national television or WGN-9. But as a point of reference for the interest of the audience and the trends of the audience, it is not pretty.
The Blackhawks are still a big attraction at the United Center, and they continue to lead the league in average at-home assistance. This season averaged 21,654, which is 109.8 percent of seating capacity, also tops the NHL.
In addition, even in decline, the Blackhawks still have more homes seeing them in their local regional sports network than any other team in the American NHL.
That’s when the Blackhawks started a series of nine consecutive postseason posts that ended this spring. It was also the first season that they put all their hours on television. Both were critical factors in the rebirth of the franchise and increased in popularity.
At that time, the average Blackhawks TV rating for that season was just 0.63, or 21,855 homes, while the average attendance of the United Center was 16,814. That gives an idea of what the organization had accumulated and how quickly the Jenga fan support tower can shake and crash back to Earth.
Blackhawks’ local cable ratings peaked in the 2012-13 season with an average of 5.38 households, or 187,482 households, but that was driven by two anomalies.
First, there was an abbreviated season of 48 games due to a league block. Second, the Blackhawks had a phenomenal 21-0-3 start in the first half on their way to their second of three championships in six seasons.
Some teams can weather that kind of mediocrity and maintain their qualifications. The Blackhawks clearly can not.
They did better than their also stable United Center teammates, the young Bulls, whose local cable numbers declined 10 percent from a 2.0 rating in 2016-17 to 1.8 last season on NBCSCH.
That’s below the average of the entire NBA league in local regional sports networks this season, which was 2.4, a 4 percent increase from season to season. The total audience for the national broadcasts of the NBA regular season, on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV, increased by 8 percent from a year ago to 1.28 million people.
That would be the Bears.
Although the NFL’s total average audience decreased 9.7 percent from 16.5 million people in 2016 to 14.9 million, Bears’ cable and broadcast home ratings rose 4 percent in the Chicago market last season, from an average rating of 18.6 households in 2016-17 to 19.4.
The small size of the Chicago market means that the Bears were in almost 4,000 fewer homes, even with the best rating, but that’s a decline of just 0.6 percent in an audience that continues to exceed the 640,000 local households in each game.
Imagine what I could do a little bit of enthusiasm for the new coach of the Bears, Matt Nagy, and some victories.
The Cubs’ local cable house ratings have increased by 20 percent compared to this point last season, from 3.5 to 4.2. The White Sox’s ratings climbed 38 percent, from 0.8 to 1.1. The number of unique viewers for the games of each team has also increased through the live broadcast of NBCSCH.