Category Archives: HBO

24/7 & Versus Ratings

John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal tweeted some NHL ratings today.

HBO drew 284K viewers to the first episode Wed night, which is down from last year

The decline for 24/7 is a little surprising but let’s face it, last year’s rivalry was more interesting. One thing to keep in mind is that all HBO programs see a big bump if you add in on demand and encore presentation views. For instance, last year’s first episode ended up with around 2.8 million viewers. But on its actual debut night, 24/7 only drew 383,000 viewers. The key will be for this year’s version to attract viewers from those same alternative platforms.

This year’s numbers are off from the boxing version of 24/7. Cotto/Margarito drew 618k last month but that was likely helped by being a lead in to live boxing. 24/7 usually drops if live boxing isn’t on the schedule.

Also from John Ourand –

Top NHL game on cable: Versus’ CHI-MIN match on Wed drew 540K viewers. More than 3,350 shows had a higher viewership on cable last week.

These Versus ratings are pretty solid but that’s to be expected. Both teams are good regional draws and it was a competitive matchup.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in HBO, NHL, Ratings, Television, Versus


Thoughts On NHL 36 & 24/7

It was a great time to be a hockey fan on Wednesday night. It got off to kind of a rough start as NHL 36 was just about as I expected. It wasn’t terrific but it had its moments. It definitely reminded me of A Day in the Life of on NHL Network. Basically, this was just a flashier version of that show.

NHL Original Productions are clearly going for an NFL Films feel with its slow motion camera work and soaring music. Of course, fancy production is only half the battle. Content is what matters and NHL 36 could use more compelling footage. I didn’t care for Peter Coyote as narrator. They would’ve done just as well with Doc Emrick handling the duties. The show itself was very slow moving at times, which is odd since it was 22 minutes long. Much of it was fluff and was somewhat playing for the cameras.

In the end, it was no 24/7. For that matter, it was no Oil Change either. It was more on the level of Becoming Wild. A decent hockey program that’s fun to watch, but not required viewing. My guess is that it will find its groove as time goes by.

While 36 had some hiccups, the night’s highlight was on the way. As expected, HBO’s 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic didn’t disappoint. Any show that features The Black Keys and Fitz and the Tantrums on its soundtrack has to be pretty cool. From its music to its amazing camera work, 24/7 was on point.

It didn’t take long to see the star potential for several players. Naturally, Sean Avery was at a fashion shoot. Wayne Simmonds helped open up an urban ice rink. Ryan Callahan had an emotional reunion with his family in Buffalo. But perhaps the real star was Ilya Bryzgalov. Goalies are stereotyped as being odd and Bryzgalov delivered. His comments are sure to become YouTube fodder for years to come.

One area where 24/7 really shines is in their access. All those mics and camera work paid off in spades after Michael del Zotto crashed into the boards. The footage was mesmerizing. Then, there was the footage of Artem Anisimov and the Rangers reaction after his showboating celebration. Stuff like that is hard to beat. To top it off, cameras followed Claude Giroux around and viewers got to see a peek into concussion baseline testing.

24/7 touches all emotions. It can be heartwarming and then switch right over to footage of brutal combat. No hockey series can compare. This year’s edition is off to a strong start. As fans, we’re completely spoiled by this access. Traditionally, Saturday night is a cant miss night for hockey fans. 24/7 changes that. For the next few weeks, Wednesday nights will be must see television for all hockey fans.

The real question is why anyone would schedule 36 on the same night as the debut of 24/7. There’s no way they could ever compare and having them on the same night was silly. It made 36 look quite amateur if you compared them side by side. The only plus was that 36 made it to air a few hours earlier. If it was the opposite, you probably would’ve fallen asleep. The good news is that this problem even exists. The more behind the scenes, the better it is for the fans. Lets hope this trend continues.

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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in HBO, NHL, Television, Versus


24/7 & NHL 36 Debut Tonight

Tonight is a big night for original NHL programming as two series get under way. HBO’s 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic gets under way at 10 PM ET. According to’s Dan Rosen, the finishing touches are still being put on, just hours from its debut.. Liev Schreiber still needs to do his narration and the music needs to be added to footage. Rosen has a short Q & A with Sr. Producer Dave Harmon. From the article Does anybody from the Rangers and Flyers, or the NHL, get a special look at the show before it airs?

Harmon: A couple of League and team people look at the show in the hours before it airs. Primarily as a “second set” of eyes to make sure HBO hasn’t inadvertently revealed any competitive secrets from the teams. How many hours or even minutes do you spare between the time the show is 100-percent done and the time it goes to air?

Harmon: The show is completed approximately an hour before air time. But each week is different, depending on the footage and storylines which have developed. Sometimes we have a little more time than that, sometimes less.

It is interesting how it goes right down to the wire in creating each 24/7 episode. Its amazing especially when you consider how compelling and polished each episode is. As expected, Rangers coach John Tortorella isn’t a fan of the cameras. From Newsday

“There’s no question; I can’t stand it,” Tortorella said. “But it doesn’t affect my coaching. Listen, let me make it clear. are good guys, good guys. I just don’t want people in our locker room. But I know we have to do it.”
As part of participating in the Winter Classic, teams are required by the league to sign on to the HBO project. And Tortorella acknowledged that, most of the time, “you don’t even notice” the presence of the cameras. “I don’t even see them. That’s where they’re really good. It hasn’t affected how we go about our business. I just don’t agree with it.”
He has not, he insisted, edited himself for the cameras. “Because I know we have final say” in what will be broadcast. “You know, things happen. The last thing I want to happen on that show is a player looked at the wrong way. It’s an emotional game, emotional times. There’s plenty enough stuff you can turn into a good show without a player being jammed up or be in a tough spot that is seen by everybody.
“I don’t want you to think it’s a free-for-all in that locker room every night, screaming and yelling, because it doesn’t happen. And I think you’ll see that as we go through it.”

Meanwhile, over on Versus, NHL 36 will debut at 6:30 PM ET, focusing on Patrick Kane. The program will be the first for the newly launched NHL Original Productions. NHL 36 will also air on the NHL Network in both the U.S. and Canada. The program sounds very similar to the old A Day In The Life Of which formerly aired on NHLN. It will be interesting to see how it differs and how it improves from that series.

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in HBO, NHL, Television, Versus


News & Notes

Here’s a few news items.


First off, let’s start with a quote from David Shoalts’ latest column

NHL chief operating office John Collins will have good news to report about the league’s business in Europe and Asia. After a slow start, the television rights to the league’s overseas markets are now sold, with a deal in Russia the latest to fall into place.

In a confidential memo to the governors two years ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league took in $14-million (all figures U.S.) in European television rights, which it split 50-50 with Comcast, which then owned Versus, the league’s main U.S. carrier. Bettman also outlined a strategy of building the league’s presence on multiple platforms to show international advertisers it has a substantial audience in European, Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

Last summer, the deal with ESPN America, which covered Europe and the Middle East, expired and Bettman decided to negotiate deals individually in each country. He took some heat for the slow start but Collins is expected to tell the governors the NHL will now earn more than double the previous deal, some $30-million, from its overseas broadcast revenue on different platforms.

Whether this number is true or not, who knows but the NHL has already been spinning its new                   international TV deals as huge victories. The fans might feel otherwise but its all rosy in New York. If these dollar figures are correct, don’t expect the NHL to go back to its old way of selling international rights. All that matters to them is dollars and cents, at least when it comes to this issue.


Regional ratings continue to get leaked out. The New York Rangers are the latest and again, it shows some gains. From Sports Media Watch

Through 20 games, Rangers games have averaged a 0.80 rating on MSG Network in the New York market, up 7% from the comparable point last year (0.75).

Tuesday’s game between the Penguins and Rangers earned a 1.60 rating, a season-high.

Those aren’t great numbers, but more importantly, the numbers are up. As long as the Rangers can continue their strong play, the team should see some very high ratings, especially come playoff time.


  • The New York Times is featuring a terrific series on Derek Boogaard. The series will have three parts in total. It’s some of the best hockey writing of the year. Props to the Times for all their hard work on this story. It’s a must read for anyone whether you’re a sports fan or not.
  • Condolences to Detroit Red Wings play by play man Ken Daniels. His father passed away at the age of 96 on Friday. A familiar face to Wings fans filled in on Sunday – Dave Strader. Strader got his NHL start with the Wings before moving to ESPN. Matt Shepard will be on the air Tuesday. Shepard calls college hockey for Fox Sports Detroit along with his main duties as the voice of Michigan Wolverines basketball.
  • For those looking for previews of HBO’s 24/7 and the schedule, you can find them here. The schedule isn’t complete yet but HBO: 24/7 Flyers/Rangers Road to the Winter Classic will premiere every Wednesday, beginning on December 14. Liev Schreiber will narrate the series once again.
  • And speaking of the Winter Classic, Puck The Media has the details on this year’s NBC ad campaign. One of the ads feature Will Arnett and Luc Robitaille, among others singing “The Hockey Song.” It’s a clever campaign and lets hope it gets plenty of airtime during the NFL on NBC.

Posted by on December 6, 2011 in HBO, MSG, NBC, New York Rangers, NHL, Ratings, Television