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Posts tagged ‘hockey’


Who knew there were Google image results for "NBC Fail"?

Who knew there were Google image results for "NBC Fail"?

Seriously NBC? There’s so much non-trivial stuff going on in the world and you’re going to make me comment on this? Fine. Let’s explore the myriad of ways you don’t understand how ratings work.

The Coles notes: Both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins have hosted free public “viewing parties” for Stanley Cup games being held out of town (or in the Pen’s case, sometimes for games in-town). This way people can still gather to cheer on their local team when there’s no chance of attending in person. However NBC is putting the kibosh to that, by not allowing either team the rights to rebroadcast their video feed for these public events. This is ostensibly to protect the “value” of their broadcast. Suffice it to say most people think this is idiotic.

NBC – since you’re only a broadcast partner, your broadcast has “value” in only two areas:

  • The perceived value to advertisers
  • The actual value to advertisers

Ratings are only important for the former. You want the highest ratings numbers, not because it conveys a tangible benefit to you, but it makes the perceived value of you advertising slots higher. True, sometimes there are minimum targets or advertisers get their money back, or bonus’ if you reach a threshold… but for the most part there is no difference to you (positive or negative) for minor variances. If we presume that the maximum number of people who would watch a game simultaneously in Detroit and Pittsburgh could maybe top out at 30,000 (filling the Joe, and another 5-8 thousand outside in Pittsburgh – tops – that’s less than 0.03 of a ratings point (currently a single ratings point is around 1.1M viewers). This is not a statistically significant variance to influence the perceived value of your advertising.

One might argue that the real issue is “share” (the total of all TV watchers at a given time tuned to a specific program), especially when broken down by region… but this ignores the second part of the “value” to the network which is actual value to the advertisers. That is to say, the number of eyebals that actually recieve an advertiser’s message.

Although they certainly aren’t sharing this information with us, I have no doubt that the execs at NBC have filing cabinets full of ratios, studies, and formula to estimate how many viewers in a ratings point (or share) are actually exposed to an advertisers message. This lets them court advertisers with comparatives. “Well sure, America’s Got Talent doesn’t have the ratings of Idol… but as you can see our audience averages .5 fridges per household more than Fox’s, so our audience is 68% more likely to not miss your 30 second spot because of a beer run… that makes us a much better value per dollar”. It’s one of the reasons that so many broadcasters are getting back into live sports – viewers are far less likely to PVR/Tivo/VCR/Bittorrent live sports events and watch them later, fast-forwarding through the ads. In horrible ad-speak this is called “appointment viewing”.

In this light, these live parties should be encouraged – as they are demonstrable “appointment viewing”. Ad execs should be doing cartwheels and writing press releases about how they’re delivering an absolutely captive audience to their advertisers. An audience that can’t even change the channel. Those 30,000 aren’t just “potential” exposures to advertising (like most ratings and share are)… they’re “actual” exposures to advertising… and should be considerably more valuable to advertisters.

So congratulations NBC, you’ve taken a “no lose” value proposition (one that – for no effort on your part – is either neutral, or beneficial, to the value of your programming) – and managed to turn it into international ill will and consumer outrage.

And that’s terrible.

[Update – the Detroit Free Press article linked above is now suggesting that the blackout could actually be at the request of the NHL… and if that’s true, that’s absolutely mind-boggling. That’s, like eighty pies worth of mind-boggling.]

Even the emperor of segue’s would be stumped with this one…

We must work together to give the following YouTube video the mandatory 6,000 views to get a group of fat hockey fans to strip on the “Ellen” show. We can think of no nobler cause for Puck Daddy to endorse.

(via, where else, Puck Daddy)

Stupid Educational Hockey Math Brain-Blowout

Image not related, I just love Peter Puck.

I get flack from friends and family from coming home from the office and regaling them with absolutely non-sequiter information. This has created the impression that I spend all day at work reading “weird trivia fact books” or something. In reality, I often pick up bits and pieces of information which continue to grate at me in the back of my head as I do the more tedious tasks of my day.

Case in point: In cleaning out my Google Reader cache last night I saw an article at Puck Daddy about how a Chicago Blackhawks Fan won $1,000,000 at a game on Tuesday. The promotion, with the Illinois Lottery, was that a randomly chosen fan at each home game could win $1,000,000 if the ‘hawks scored a goal at exactly the 10-minute mark of the second period. Only five days after the promotion started, Martin Havlat made some lucky fan a millionaire.

The article also had a quote from a Darren Rovell article at CNBC about the odds of such an occurrence where Greg Esterhai, a representative of an insurance company, said the odds of such a promotion would be about 1 in 25, per season.

So today, while I sat on hold on the phone, I wondered if I could recreate this calculation before my call got answered:

  • A NHL game is 60 minutes, or 3600 seconds
  • A quick Google search turned up the 2007 goals-per-game average: 5.94
  • That would make the odds of a goal at any particular second 1:606
  • and given 40 home games in a season (40:606), approx 1:15 that someone would score a goal at any given second in a season… which is significantly different than the odds that Mr. Esterhai quoted.

Not only could I not figure out what mistake I had made before I had to turn my attention back to my actual call, this discrepancy drove me completely bonkers grating in the back of my head all day. One obvious flaw is that I’m sure the distribution of goals isn’t entirely equal over the course of the game (I suspect more goals are scored at the beginning and end of periods… also more goals during the first and third period seems to make sense)… but the quote was pretty clear that the calculation was for a goal during any second in a game… not particularly at a specific time – so a simple even distribution seemed most appropriate for a napkin calculation (in this, it turns out I was right).

I make no claims to being a math guru (first year economics in University just about handed me my ass with the calculus required) so I finally decided to write my dilemma down in a post to see if anyone out there could show me what mistake I was making… however in the process of writing my problem out long-form, my (completely stupid) mistake becomes glaringly obvious.

No, I’m not going to tell you what mistake I made. You can either gloat in smug superiority, or share my pain. Either one works for me.