St. Louis loves to watch hockey. The end of the year ratings are out for hockey on television and the St. Louis area is in the top five markets for both national and regional broadcasts at the end of the 2015-16 NHL regular season. We wrote about television ratings earlier this season at the half way mark. At that time the St. Louis market was one of the top five for NHL games on regional sports networks, and now St. Louis has also finished the season in the top five RSNs. The St. Louis market's average rating for hockey on Fox Sports Midwest (i.e. watching the St. Louis Blues play) was 3.69, placing them fourth on the list just above Boston. Buffalo topped the list followed by Pittsburgh and Chicago. However, the St. Louis market had a rather steep drop of 24% from the previous season placing them in the bottom five markets for percent change from previous season. As we mentioned during the halfway point, you have to wonder if the team's playoff woes contributed to this drop. It is still impressive that even with such a decline St. Louis still ended up in the regional sports networks top 5. The loyalty fans show to the Blues through television viewership is astounding.
St. Louis also finished in the top 5 of national viewership as well. According to NBCUniversal, St. Louis was 5th (.78) in household rating for games broadcast on NBC and NBCSN and finished 2nd (.87) for games broadcast only on NBCSN. Buffalo (1.23) topped the list of household ratings when combining NBC and NBCSN hockey broadcasts while Pittsburgh (.98) topped the list for NBCSN hockey broadcasts. NBC must finally be paying attention to the ratings because St. Louis had 4 more games on NBCSN this season with 12 games being shown on the cable network compared to only 8 in 2014-2015. However, that balances out against the zero games (I can't believe that is correct but that is what the Blues' schedule on the website is telling me) shown on NBC. Last season NBC featured three Blues games on the national network during the season. Still this is a net gain of an additional game shown on the NBC networks.
Overall, hockey on television this season had its best full season of viewership ever on the NBC network and its best season of cable viewership since the 1993-94 season. For all our complaints about select on-air talent both at the rink and in the studio, the NHL and NBC must be doing something right. This should give NBC the impetus to provide more resources for hockey broadcasts as far as time allotted for regular season games, new features, and better technology to enhance broadcasts.
If the Blues have substantial success in the playoffs this season, there is no reason for NBC to not continue featuring Blues' games on both their national and cable broadcasts. Of course, St. Louis will have the Winter Classic next season and that is sure to draw additional attention for the Blues on the broadcast schedule. The Winter Classic has performed well on St. Louis televisions in previous seasons. So we should see some great numbers next year coming out of the St. Louis market for hockey on television. Don't let anyone tell you that St. Louis is not a hockey town. This town loves its hockey.