Baseball season has ended, and the NBA might not rank as a first-option for many fans who watch sports on TV in the region. So what's left?
College football, hockey and other Penn State sports that show up on the Big Ten Network, that's what. Fans around here certainly do watch those.
While national ratings and viewership for sports regularly top TV ratings, they typically remain below levels of previous years.
Conversely, proving that "sports are tribal" - a phrase first used regularly by David Hill of Fox Sports - regional sports networks and local viewership levels have been at record highs in recent years.
Our region plays a big role in that trend. In fact, we're part of the group helping lead it. We like our sports on TV.
Last week's Penn State-Ohio State football game was the most-watched college football game of the weekend, drawing more than 4 million viewers nationally. Almost anytime the Lions are on TV, even if they're just 4-3, it ranks as must-see TV in the region.
Likewise, the Pittsburgh Penguins have completed a month of regular season play (15 games counting last night's matchup with Columbus) and Root Sports has again been drawing strong ratings and viewership. Last year, Root Sports' broadcasts of Penguins games drew the highest average rating of any U.S.-based professional sports team - more than any other NHL team, and even better than every NBA and MLB team.
In addition, for four years in a row, the Penguins broadcasts have drawn the highest ratings of any U.S.-based NHL team.
For Penn State fans, the next time Nittany Lions squads appear on BTN should come later this week.
One conference tournament semifinal for field hockey airs at 10 a.m. Friday, and the women's soccer semifinals air at noon and 2:30 p.m. that day. With the Penn State field hockey and women's soccer teams atop the conference standings, they should be solid bets to be among the teams featured in those broadcasts.
Ratings and viewership for the just-concluded World Series between the Cardinals and Red Sox were decent, but those numbers were also far short of what they used to be.
In terms of viewership, World Series games averaged a tick or two over 14 million viewers per game. And the clinching Game 6 for the Red Sox provided the highest rating for Fox since an episode of "American Idol" in January. In addition, the game was up in overnight ratings 18 percent from last year's Series-clinching game between the Giants and Tigers.
Still, looking back less than a decade, at the 2004 World Series featuring the Cardinals and Red Sox, the five-game matchup averaged 25.4 million viewers. The clinching Game 5 drew 28.8 million. It's a baseball situation, and a highly segmented viewership situation.
While sports on TV remain solid programming - because they usually draw higher numbers than most scripted or reality shows - the abundance of viewing options because of the Internet and other options have made what ranks as a strong TV draw seemingly less powerful than it was in the past.
Sports still gets top-notch numbers compared to other shows. But those numbers are much softer than what they used to be.
n CBS Sports features its No. 1 on-air team, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, working today's Steelers-Patriots game. It's the rare time when the TV pairing might be better than the game it's working. Neither the Steelers nor Patriots seem to be at the level of recent seasons, but it's the late game for CBS - which typically draws its best rating of the weekend for the network - so it's a logical assignment for their top tandem.
n They have not played a Big Ten game, but high expectations and abundant praise already exist for the Penn State men's ice hockey team. Count ESPN "SportsCenter" host John Buccigross, who was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Indiana, Pa., among those piling on in a positive manner. "I think it's going to be a great program quickly," Buccigross told ESPN Radio listeners this week.
n An IUP men's basketball game airs on BTN at 10 p.m. Tuesday as the Crimson Hawks visit Michigan State. Former St. Francis assistant Joe Lombardi, alongside Jim Baron when the Flash went to the 1991 NCAA Tournament, is IUP's head coach.
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