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Frozen Four TV Ratings 1995-2010

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Plenty of words have been written on ESPN relegating this year's Frozen Four to ESPN2 and ESPNU (first semifinal between Ferris State and Union), but TV viewership numbers haven't been great in recent years for college hockey. Eight of the ten highest viewed National Championship games have come before prior to 2003, with only Boston U.'s OT winner over Miami in 2009 and BC's win over Wisconsin cracking the top 10 in terms of TV ratings.

Here are the top 10 National Championship game TV ratings from 1995-2010 (don't have 2011 numbers). All of these games were on ESPN.

# Year Date Matchup Rating Cable Rating Share Households Est. Viewers
1 1996 Mar. 30 Colorado College vs. Michigan 0.9 0.89 3 605,000 1,573,000
2 2002 Apr. 6 Maine vs. Minnesota 0.85 1.04 2 899,000 2,301,440
3 1998 Apr. 4 Boston College vs. Michigan 0.7 0.99 2 731,000 1,893,290
4 1997 Mar. 29 Boston U. vs. North Dakota 0.7 0.69 2 494,000 1,279,460
5 1995 Apr. 1 Boston U. vs. Maine 0.6 0.81 2 526,000 1,357,080
6 2009 Apr. 11 Boston U. vs. Miami 0.57 0.67 1 656,000 1,672,800
7 2000 Apr. 8 Boston College vs. North Dakota 0.5 0.71 1 551,000 1,421,580
8 1999 Apr. 3 Maine vs. New Hampshire 0.5 0.7 1 530,000 1,367,400
9 2001 Apr. 7 Boston College vs. North Dakota 0.5 0.66 1 542,000 1,387,520
10 2010 Apr. 10 Boston College vs. Wisconsin 0.46 0.53 1 526,000 1,341,300

Interestingly, Boston College's victory over Notre Dame in the 2008 title game was the second least watched title game of the last 16 years, earning a TV rating of just 0.39 (and ahead of only 2003's Minnesota-New Hampshire final).

Here are the top 10 National Semifinals TV ratings over the same period:

# Year Date Matchup Rating Cable Rating Share Households Est. Viewers
1 1998 Apr. 2 Boston College vs. Ohio State 0.3 0.55 1 314,000 813,260
2 1996 Mar. 28 Boston U. vs. Michigan 0.5 0.55 1 169,000 439,400
3 1997 Mar. 27 Boston U. vs. Michigan 0.5 0.51 1 232,000 600,880
4 2006 Apr. 6 Maine vs. Wisconsin 0.3 0.41 1 365,000 927,100
5 2005 Apr. 7 North Dakota vs. Minnesota 0.3 0.37 1 327,000 830,580
6 1999 Apr. 1 Michigan State vs. UNH 0.2 0.37 1 236,000 608,880
7 2008 Apr. 10 Notre Dame vs. Michigan 0.31 0.36 1 342,000 872,100
8 1995 Mar. 30 Boston U. vs. Minnesota 0.1 0.32 1 63,000 162,540
9 1996 Mar. 28 Colorado College vs. Vermont 0.3 0.31 1 94,000 244,400
10 2009 Apr. 9 Boston U. vs. Vermont 0.25 0.29 0 284,000 723,200

Don't ever say BC, BU or the Big Ten is bad for business, though BC only appears once on this list -- at the top, for the strong TV viewership for the 1998 semifinals game against Ohio State. Interestingly six of the top 10 Frozen Four semifinals games were played prior to 2000. A cursory glance suggests that college hockey's strong TV viewership days are behind them.

You have to think this year won't be any better. In fact, I'd imagine this year's Frozen Four will be one of the least viewed events over the past 16-17 years. The fact that two relative unknowns -- Union and Ferris State -- face off in the first semifinal combined with the move to ESPNU and ESPN2 for the semis and ESPN2 for the title game is not good news for college hockey and ESPN.