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TORONTO – This may get NHL team owners and players back to the negotiating table.
NHL-starved rabid fans in Canada have not been jumping out of windows without Hockey Night in Canada live league games on Saturday nights amid the pro league’s continuing work stoppage.
There’s no mass cord-cutting or getting by with DVDs, no torch and pitchfork demonstrations outside the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto to urge both sides to resume bargaining.
Mostly male TV viewers have just gone elsewhere on the dial to watch their favorite American shows for an entertainment fix.
Top-rated CTV reports Canadian TV viewership on Saturday nights is down only 5 percent in primetime, compared to fall 2011 levels, according to BBM Canada data.
The big winners are Canadian cable channels, which have attracted 34 percent of viewers for a combined 20 percent audience lift on Saturday nights.
Conventional network CTV has doubled its 8-10 p.m. audience with Big Bang Night on CTV, a block of The Big Bang Theory re-runs.
The Comedy Network has snagged its share of footloose hockey fans, as its average viewership is up by 56,000 eyeballs on Saturday night, while cable sports channel TSN has seen its audience go up by an average 50,000 viewers.
The big loser is the CBC, which has retained only 11 percent of hockey viewers with repeats of classic NHL games on its Hockey Night in Canada telecast.
The pubcaster in recent years has relied on a Saturday night double-header of NHL games on its Hockey Night in Canada telecast to drive its ad revenues.
The CTV, with its Big Bang Theory re-runs, has seen its Saturday night audience rise 19 percent on Saturday nights since the NHL lockout got underway, while Global Television, which airs Chicago Fire Saturday nights, has seen its viewership rise 5 percent.
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