Sportscasters set online records

Ramped-up web coverage of the NHL's trade deadline day paid off for TSN, RDS and Sportsnet, which saw soaring numbers on the busiest sports day of the year.

Sportscasters are patting themselves on the back for their new-media coverage of the NHL’s trade deadline day, which set records for online traffic in a single day for TSN, RDS and Sportsnet. far outweighed the competition in English Canada, generating 14.2 million page views – a 39% increase over last year – and 1.4 million streams on Feb. 26. Over at Sportsnet, 60,000 viewers watched its live video stream, doubling last year’s traffic, while overall page views were up 58% to 3.8 million. ramped up its infrastructure in anticipation of what exec producer Mike Day says is by far the busiest sports day of the year. ‘We doubled the number of servers from five or six on a normal day to the 10-15 range on trade deadline day. We also took some other stories off our page, especially if they were graphic-intensive.’

Day says the net’s new video player was enhanced to host a live stream from the TSN studio to create a better picture, in addition to adding a ‘trade tracker’ into the broadband player. The tracker was updated continuously as trades were happening. ‘We had well over a million page views for the trade tracker alone,’ he says.

Sportsnet, meanwhile, was the only network to offer a live interactive chat room, which turned out to be one of the most successful components of its online offerings, according to VP of marketing David Ballingall. ‘It allowed people to jump in and provide their commentary on what was going on. . . it was very effective at keeping people there,’ he says, adding that the average length of time users were streaming was 33 minutes.

‘That stunned us. Online video consumption is usually 30-second or one-minute [segments] at the most,’ Ballingall notes. Sportsnet also offered a trade tracker, text and e-mail alerts, in addition to a blog that focused on the implications of trades for users in the Fantasy Hockey Pool.

Both Day and Ballingall agree that online sports coverage is vital for daytime events such as trade deadline day, since most people are away from their TVs. ‘In a lot of ways, the online offering was superior to the TV offering,’ says Ballingall. ‘The different ways that you can customize the content. . . for sports fans, that’s crucial. It’s all about getting trade info to fans when and where they want it.’

Meanwhile, TSN’s French sister RDS had nearly 900,000 visits to its site, marking an increase of 66% from 2007, while page views amounted to a record-setting 5 million.

As far as TV broadcasts go, TSN averaged 166,000 viewers over the course of the 10-hour broadcast (8 am-6 pm). Sportsnet placed second with 54,000, while The Score drew 12,000 viewers. The four-hour RDS telecast scored 268,000 viewers (1-5 pm).

From Playback Daily