Weekend Ratings Predictions

Posted by | February 19, 2011 at 9:31 PM

Ratings predictions for sporting events this weekend, including the Daytona 500 on FOX, the NBA All-Star Game on TNT, Hockey Day in America on NBC, golf on CBS, and college basketball action.

First, the results of last week’s predictions
Ratings for last Saturday’s Pittsburgh/Villanova game unavailable.





















Sport Game/Event Net
Prediction
Rating
NBA
Heat/Celtics ABC
3.2
3.4
ABC earned a 3.4 final rating for Heat/Celtics last Sunday afternoon, the highest rating for a non-Christmas NBA regular season game in the early afternoon window since February 2002.
NBA
Lakers/Magic ABC
2.8
3.5
The Lakers’ 14-point loss to the Magic drew a 3.5 final rating on ABC last Sunday, tied as the network’s third-best non-Christmas regular season rating since reacquiring rights to the NBA nine years ago.
NBA
Thunder/Warriors ESPN
0.8
0.9
In the nightcap of last week’s NBA tripleheader, the Warriors’ win over the Thunder earned a 0.9 U.S. rating on ESPN.
NHL
Bruins/Red Wings NBC
0.9
0.8
For the third straight game, NBC drew less than a 1.0 rating for NHL coverage. The 0.8 for Bruins/Red Wings marks a 14% increase from the comparable game in 2009 (PHI/NYR: 0.7). There was no comparable telecast last year, due to the Olympics.
NASCAR
Budweiser Shootout FOX
4.7
4.5
NASCAR’s Budweiser Shootout drew a 4.5 final rating on FOX last Saturday night, up a tick from last year, but the second-lowest rating ever for the event on FOX.
NASCAR
Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying FOX
2.2
2.0
Last Sunday’s Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying telecast earned a 2.0 final rating on FOX, up a quarter from last year, but the second-lowest rating for the event since at least ’98.
Golf (M)
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Third Round CBS
1.3
1.6
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Final Round
1.8
2.3
CBS coverage of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earned a 1.6 on Saturday and a 2.3 on Sunday, up 33% and 44%, respectively, from last year.
College Basketball (M)
#18 Kentucky/#24 Vanderbilt CBS
0.9
1.0
Last Saturday’s Kentucky/Vanderbilt college basketball game on CBS scored a 1.0 final rating, even with last year’s Maryland/Duke game.
College Basketball (M)
#12 Purdue/Illinois CBS
0.8
0.7
On Sunday, Purdue/Illinois earned a 0.7 final rating on CBS, also even with last year.

This week’s predictions:

























Sport Game/Event Day/Time Net Prediction
NASCAR
2011 Daytona 500 1 PM Sunday FOX
10.4
Daytona 500 ratings have declined in each of the past two years, dropping to a 9.2 in 2009 and hitting a nineteen-year low of 7.7 in 2010. However, there were some mitigating factors for those declines — rain delays in 2009, and the infamous pothole delays last year. The ten-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt‘s death, and a full-week of attention devoted to popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., has resulted in a higher-than-usual level of attention for this year’s race. Assuming it can avoid the same pitfalls as the previous two races, expect ratings for the crown jewel of the NASCAR season to jump back into the double-digits, and potentially hit a five year high (11.3 in 2006).
NASCAR Nationwide
Drive4COPD 300 1 PM Saturday ESPN2
2.3
The NASCAR Nationwide Series kicks off its 2011 season with Saturday’s Drive4COPD 300. Danica Patrick is back once again, but do not expect her presence to boost the numbers nearly as much as last year. Last year’s race drew a 2.8 rating, up 40% from the previous year.
NBA
2011 NBA All-Star Game 8:30 PM Sunday TNT
5.0
The 2011 NBA All-Star Game could very well be the last for the foreseeable future, even if the NBA manages to salvage part of next season. With that in mind, expect the game to go out on a high note, or at least, a higher-than-usual note. The first half of the NBA season was an overwhelming success for TNT, ESPN and ABC. Already this season, five games have topped seven million viewers, a mark that only one regular season game surpassed all of last year. Expect the momentum to continue for Sunday’s midseason classic. Last year’s game set the bar low with a 3.8 rating; TNT’s highest All-Star rating was a 6.6 in 2003.
NBA
NBA All-Star Saturday Night 8 PM Saturday TNT
3.7
NBA All-Star Saturday Night suffered a rare decline in ratings last year, likely due to competition from the Winter Olympics. Not only will this year’s telecast avoid such formidable competition, but it also features one of the more hyped Slam Dunk Contest contestants in recent memory — the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. The numbers should rise from last year (3.1), though it may be difficult to match the record set in 2009 (3.9).
NBA
The Lost Dunks 7 PM Saturday TNT
2.2
Look for Saturday’s The Lost Dunks special on TNT — detailing the best Slam Dunk Contest dunks from competitors who did not win the event — to top last year’s comparable H.O.R.S.E telecast (1.9).
NHL
Rangers/Flyers (54%), Wild/Red Wings (40%) or Sabres/Capitals (6%) 12:30 PM Sunday NBC
1.0
Hockey Day in America begins with the first regional NHL telecast on NBC in four years. Most of the country gets a battle of the top four TV markets, as the Rangers face the defending Eastern Conference champion Flyers. So far this season, all three of NBC’s indoor NHL telecasts have failed to draw at least 1% of U.S. TV households; look for that to change Sunday.
NHL
Penguins/Blackhawks 3:30 PM Sunday NBC
1.2
In the late game of what may very well be the first NHL doubleheader ever on broadcast television, NBC offers a matchup of the last two Stanley Cup champions between the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins and the 11th-place Blackhawks. Penguins/Blackhawks, which has the latest scheduled start time for any NHL regular season game on broadcast in three years, could very well have challenged as the highest rated non-Winter Classic regular season game ever on NBC. But with Chicago currently out of the playoff picture and Pittsburgh missing its biggest star, the numbers will likely not be as good as they could have been. Still, expect stronger-than-average numbers.
NHL
Canadiens/Flames 6 PM Sunday Versus
0.5
Sunday’s NHL action concludes with the league’s Heritage Classic on Versus, as the Canadiens meet the Flames in an outdoor game. Several factors point to this game putting up less than impressive numbers — its the second outdoor game of the year, it features two Canadian teams, and it takes place on the same day as the NBA All-Star Game and Daytona 500. While blockbuster numbers are out of the question, the game should put up better-than-average numbers.
Golf (M)
Northern Trust Open, Third Round 3 PM Saturday CBS
1.8
Northern Trust Open, Final Round 3 PM Sunday
2.6
Golf ratings are trending upwards so far this year, as all six telecasts on CBS have had increases from ’10. Look for that to continue with this weekend’s Northern Trust Open on CBS. Last year’s tournament aired on Super Bowl weekend and earned ratings of 1.4 (Sat.) and 1.7 (Sun.), while the 2009 event scored substantially higher numbers of 1.7 and 3.3, respectively.
College Basketball (M)
#7 Notre Dame/West Virginia or Georgia/Tennessee 1 PM Saturday CBS
1.0
CBS should put up decent enough numbers for Saturday’s regional college football action featuring Notre Dame/West Virgnia. Last year’s comparable regional window drew a 0.9 in an earlier timeslot.
College Basketball (M)
#3 Ohio State/#11 Purdue 1 PM Sunday CBS
1.3
It’s a battle of Top 25 Big 10 teams as Ohio State faces Purdue on CBS Sunday. The game should do relatively well, but do not be surprised if the numbers trail the 1.4 rating for last year’s comparable regional coverage.

(Ratings for some events from nielsen.com, Sports Business Daily)