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Blackhawks’ local TV ratings down 20 percent this season, per report

The team is fifth among 21 U.S.-based NHL teams in local TV ratings, but the number is trending downwards.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks are in the midst of another likely playoff season led by some of the most popular players in hockey, but their local TV ratings on CSN Chicago have dropped 20 percent, according to Sports Business Daily.

The report notes that NHL ratings tend to pick up over the course of the season, and the league’s ratings are down seven percent across all regional sports networks in 2016-17. Still, it’s not a great sign for one of the most popular teams on its way to a ninth straight playoff berth.

Blackhawks games have an average rating of 3.12 on CSN Chicago this season, which means that 3.12 percent of all households in the market with televisions on have been tuned in to those games. This doesn’t include national or WGN broadcasts, although the majority of Hawks games are on CSN.

That rating is fifth among the 21 American teams included in the report, which excludes the Predators and Hurricanes, behind the Sabres (6.43), Penguins (5.56), Blues (4.26), and Wild (3.91). The last two teams there have seen big gains this season, as well as the Blue Jackets, which shouldn’t be surprising given their incredible play.

The Blackhawks’ local TV ratings have steadily dropped over the past few seasons.

For the 2014-15 report by Sports Business Daily, the team was ranked fourth with an average rating of 4.26. The report says that’s a one percent drop from the previous season, so you can figure the 2013-14 season’s average rating was slightly better than that.

Last season, CSN Chicago’s average rating for Hawks games dropped to 3.96, and now it has come all the way down to 3.12. That’s not a great trend for a team that’s still remained among the most competitive in the league.

The good news is that a 3.12 average local TV rating is still very healthy for an NHL team in a market as big as Chicago. And in terms of actual attendance, the Blackhawks lead the league at 21,669 per game, an average capacity of 109.9 percent. You also see red jerseys filling up opposing arenas all the team, so they’re still extremely popular, and selling tickets like hotcakes.

But local TV ratings are another good indicator of a team’s popularity in the region, and the Hawks have lost a chunk of that over the past couple seasons. They’re less than two years removed from a Stanley Cup, too, so you’d think the team would be retaining more of that audience.

The report makes a good point about the presidential election, though, and you figure more people will tune in for the playoff push. The Cubs’ World Series run probably sapped some viewers away as well. The Blackhawks remain extremely popular, and one of the NHL’s premier franchises. Their hardcore fan base still comes out in droves. That’s why it’s interesting to see the local numbers, which probably represents more of the casual fans, taking a dip so far.