By Alan Pergament
We all know this is a hockey town, right?
But you wouldn't know it by local viewership for recent NBA and NHL playoff games.
In the one head-to-head battle last Thursday, the NBA dominated the NHL like Neil Patrick Harris dominated the Tony Awards on Sunday.
San Antonio's game 1 victory over the Miami Heat last Thursday in the NBA Finals with the help of an incredible shot by the Spurs' Tony Parker had a 7.1 rating on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate.
The Chicago Black Hawks' 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in game 4 of the Western Conference finals that night had a 3.0 rating on cable's NBC Sports Network.
A couple of asterisks should be attached to the NBA victory. Its game was in the finals and it was being played on a broadcast network. However, the NHL game featured a local product, Chicago's Patrick Kane, which one might think would be an added attraction here in a hockey town.
Over the weekend, the NBA also triumphed here when the two sports aired games on different nights.
Kane's hat trick performance in Chicago's 4-3 double overtime, conference title-clinching win over Los Angeles had a 4.3 rating until 11 p.m. on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate. The rating surged in the overtimes to a 6.7 when many viewers undoubtedly were expecting to see Channel 2's 11 p.m. newscast. Even with the overtime rating, the game averaged about a 5 rating despite having little entertainment programming competition.
Miami's game 2 rout of San Antonio had a 6.1 rating Sunday on Channel 7 even though it was decided early in the fourth quarter and had stiff competition in the Tony Awards on CBS, HBO's "Game of Thrones," AMC's "The Killing" and "Mad Men," and other cable programs.
The results suggest this is a bigger basketball market than many people -- especially over at WGR radio -- believe it to be.
The relatively low ratings for both sports are a little misleading. They both get strong demographics, especially with male viewers who are the most difficult to attract.
Fortunately, the sports won't compete head-to-head anymore.
The NBA is on a Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday finals schedule that continues tonight.
The NHL finals between original six members Chicago and Boston are being played on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Kane would figure to be a big TV draw here, but the NHL ratings will suffer on the nights that the games are on the NBC Sports Network instead of the broadcast network. NBC gets game 1 Wednesday, its cable network gets games 2 and 3 and then potential clinching games 4 through 7 go back to the broadcast network.
Kane's hat trick game was called by NBC's so-called B team of play-by-play man Dave Strader, analyst Darren Pang and reporter Brian Engblom. I prefer that team to the A team of Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. Strader, who is from Glen Falls, doesn't get bogged down on insignificant details as much as Emrick.
During Saturday's game, the announcers suggested that a penalty might have been called against Chicago before Kane's third goal. The replay suggested the Kings' player just fell down.
"It looked like a good no-call to me," said NHL studio analyst Mike Milbury in between periods.
I didn't believe I would ever write this, but I agree with Milbury.
While NBC's announcing team can get aggravating at times, ABC's game crew of play-by-play man Mike Breen, analyst Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Doris Burke is always on top of its games.
However, the studio crew of Mike Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons often belabors the obvious and makes one long for TNT's crew of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'[Neal and Ernie Johnson. Simmons is a terrific wordsmith who is prone to make big statements that are quickly proven wrong. On Sunday, Simmons noted at halftime that the Heat can't go on any runs against San Antonio. After halftime, the Heat proceeded to go on a 33-5 run that decided the game.
What Day Is It? What Month Is It? In the humorous happy talk moment of the week and maybe the year, Channel 2's Maria Genero advised 5 p.m. viewers Monday about all the rain that day. That prompted co-anchor Kelly Dudzik to remark: "Rain is OK for a Wednesday. It might as well ... or a Monday. I feel awful. I don't even know what day it is."
A few moments later, Genero noted this is "the 10th of May" before correcting herself. "Did I say May? See Kelly it is contagious. Yes, of course, it is June."
At the end of Genero's weather report, Channel 2 co-anchor Scott Levin told Genero "people don't like perfect people."
Levin is right, but I doubt that slogan is going to replace "2 on Your Side" in the station's promotions.
We can only hope the station's staffers know what year it is.
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