Exploring why Kraken’s TV ratings haven’t caught up to improved play

Inside the NHL

Word that KCPQ FOX 13 will quickly launch a weekly half-hour “What’s Kraken?” present comes at a well timed second for an improved NHL staff trying to broaden in-market fan assist whereas nonetheless grappling with flat ratings on ROOT Sports.

ROOT higher-ups stay perplexed by sport broadcasts ranking among the many backside third of US-based NHL groups, having gone huge on a crew led by longtime nationwide broadcasters John Forslund and Ed Olczyck alongside enhancing and fashionable former participant JT Brown. Throw in multitalented reporter Piper Shaw — an aspiring musician who not too long ago launched songs on Spotify — and analytics specialist Alison Lukan together with Olczyk’s son, Nick, as a studio analyst and it is powerful to discover a extra complete native NHL broadcast.

Yet ratings largely mirror final February and March, when the Kraken performed ranked among the many NHL’s worst in contrast to this season’s 27-14-5 squad.

The Kraken by early final week have been averaging only a 0.68 season ranking within the Seattle-Tacoma market. That ranked 16th of 23 US-based NHL groups — knowledge for Carolina and Nashville weren’t accessible — in ratings by Nielsen Media Research.

So ratings have but to observe the staff’s improved fortunes on the ice.

“You can lead a horse to water, however you may’t all the time make it watch hockey,” a well-placed broadcast trade supply acquainted with the state of affairs quipped, calling the ratings “baffling” to a level.

The supply opined that Seattle’s aggressive sports activities market most likely hasn’t helped and that the Kraken should capitalize on this upcoming stretch alone within the highlight.

“These subsequent two or three months will likely be very telling,” the supply mentioned. “You had the Mariners lastly making the playoffs and the Seahawks — nicely, they have an inclination to suck the oxygen out of the native sports activities scene to start with, they usually made the playoffs after they weren’t even supposed to.

“But now the Kraken are all by themselves. The focus will likely be all on them.”

The Kraken’s season launched in Anaheim the identical week the Mariners performed Houston within the American League Division Series. The Kraken notched a season-high 1.6 ranking throughout 34,250 households in that opener on an off day between Mariners video games.

But they registered simply 0.7 their second sport the identical day the Mariners performed. Then 0.4 of their dwelling opener in opposition to Vegas with the Mariners enjoying throughout city in a 1-0, 18-inning loss.

When the Seahawks performed Carolina on Dec. 11, the Kraken pulled a season-low 0.1 ranking throughout 2,645 households in a highway win over Florida. They garnered simply 0.3 that week at Carolina whereas the Seahawks hosted San Francisco.

Even when the Kraken weren’t competing head-to-head with native groups, the Seahawks and Mariners dominated media protection.

Although it is powerful to discover fault with Kraken broadcasts, some trade veterans recommend an absence of native personalities may additionally be dragging on ratings. The ROOT crew is generally imported and lacks faces informal native sports activities followers would possibly immediately acknowledge.

That’s the place the FOX 13 “What’s Kraken?” segments of interviews and options, debuting Feb. 8 and co-hosted by FOX 13 sports activities anchor Aaron Levine and Sports Radio KJR host Ian Furness, may broaden the staff’s publicity. Additional Fox 13 Kraken protection will see a “Hockey 101” phase on “Good Day Seattle” hosted by anchor Bill Wixey. FOX 13 anchor Alyssa Charleston and digital reporter Curtis Crabtree may even contribute.

KCPQ can be free with a primary antenna setup, in contrast to ROOT’s cable subscription mannequin. And extra individuals changing into acquainted with the Kraken ought to enhance the franchise’s success and will drive viewers to pay for ROOT broadcasts.

One factor value mentioning: Nielsen in January 2022 started counting “broadband solely” houses — these streaming content material by way of the web — in its ratings alongside conventional TV viewers.

That would appear to assist Kraken ratings on this fashionable “wire cutter” market, however the reverse is true. A ranking level equals 1% of a market’s measured houses. By together with broadband households, Nielsen enlarged the dimensions of the market being measured, however the Kraken broadcast share inside it dropped as a result of not all streaming providers carry regional sports activities networks similar to ROOT.

This additionally considerably skews the Kraken’s NHL rating. Nielsen has Seattle tied with Atlanta for the nation’s highest proportion of in-market “broadband solely” households at 41.2% whereas Pittsburgh was lowest at 23.7%.

So Seattle sports activities programming will get penalized essentially the most by the brand new methodology and Pittsburgh the least. Interestingly, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4.86 ranking leads all US NHL groups.

Now, the Penguins carry out constantly nicely and would possible lead the rankings regardless. But seven occasions higher than Kraken ratings? It’s turn out to be harder to gauge the true hole.

Kraken president Victor de Bonis takes an optimistic view, given his staff is making an attempt to break into a longtime sports activities market. De Bonis mentioned he is seen encouraging ratings these days and hopes the Kraken will surpass 1.0 by the tip of the season — which might possible rank prime 10 amongst US squads.

“At this time limit, we’re going head-to-head with these established franchises on this market, so we’re feeling fairly good about that,” de Bonis mentioned of the ratings garnered amid the Seahawks and Mariners playoff runs. “And because the staff has been performing higher, we’re getting 1.0’s now, which might put us within the prime 10 of the league. Which, for a brand-new franchise right here, we’re extraordinarily glad about.”

Still, there’s work forward to leap from 0.68 to 1.0 — which successfully means doubling viewership from right here.

Things picked up the ultimate three video games of 2022, with ratings of 1.1, 1.1 and 0.9, however the Kraken nonetheless ended December averaging 0.6 throughout 13,486 households. Last season, with the brand new Nielsen system carried out, the Kraken’s worst TV months in February and March drew 0.6 ratings in every throughout 12,776 and 13,237 households, respectively.

Even returning dwelling final week using an eight-game win streak, the Kraken drew a 0.8 for a vacation matinee in opposition to Tampa Bay, 0.9 in Edmonton, then 0.6 at dwelling dealing with New Jersey and Colorado.

Through December of the final season, the Kraken reached a median of 27,575 households per sport — about double their present viewers. Curious followers apparently took an preliminary look earlier than disappearing because the Kraken fell from rivalry.

With the Kraken now profitable, they want to lure these curiosity seekers again. But how? More mainstream publicity. The FOX 13 deal helps. So do public occasions such because the staff’s abilities competitors Sunday. Oh, and maintain profitable throughout this unique window.

The ratings recommend the staff’s preliminary novelty shortly wore off. Now, the Kraken should maintain working off the ice and hope the novelty of a playoff hunt generates extra curiosity.

NHL TV ratings

TV ratings for US-based NHL groups as of Jan. 13, in accordance to Nielsen Media Research:

Pittsburgh Penguins: 4.86

Buffalo Sabres: 4.78

St. Louis Blues: 3.80

Boston Bruins: 3.66

Minnesota Wild: 2.39

Vegas Golden Knights: 2.18

Tampa Bay Lightning: 2.13

Detroit Red Wings: 1.52

Chicago Blackhawks: 1.04

Washington Capitals: 1.02

Philadelphia Flyers: 0.99

Columbus Blue Jackets: 0.98

New York Rangers: 0.85

Colorado Avalanche: 0.82

Seattle Kraken: 0.68

Dallas Stars: 0.53

San Jose Sharks: 0.39

Florida Panthers: 0.34

Los Angeles Kings: 0.30

New York Islanders: 0.29

New Jersey Devils: 0.27

Arizona Coyotes: 0.22

Anaheim Ducks: 0.10

Note: Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators numbers not accessible.

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