Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, January 03, 2021

National Hockey League brass should be dancing with glee over the television ratings from Thursday’s Winter Classic:

The New Year’s Day event on NBC earned a 2.9 overnight rating and a 6.0 share, the best overnight NHL regular-season rating in nearly 13 years. The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 6-4 in the second U.S. outdoor game in NHL history.

To put those somewhat nebulous TV numbers into context: Earlier this holiday season, ABC scored a 5.3 overnight rating for a Christmas Day NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. That’s a comparable showcase sports event on network television, so it shows that, while hockey is still a distinct rung down the ladder from hoops (not to mention football and baseball), it’s at least closer to the same neighborhood than it used to be.

And of course, the 2009 Winter Classic showing was a healthy increase over the 2.6 rating for last year’s inaugural, featuring the Buffalo-Pittsburgh tilt. Basically, momentum is building, which is exactly what the league was hoping for.

I’m pretty sure the data-parsing of these numbers will show most of the viewers in Chicago and Detroit, with a respectable number of eyeballs in the Northeast and other hockey-heavy pockets. That’s certainly acceptable, as no one’s expecting Super Bowl-like penetration from a glammed-up regular-season NHL game. Again, it’s a process, and so far a successful one, both game-wise and exposure-wise.

For the immediate term, this means that the NHL will try to keep the ball rolling. Best way to do that is to again feature two big-market teams on New Year’s Day 2010, which translates into New York Rangers-Boston Bruins matchup at Yankees Stadium. I’d kinda prefer to see Denver host the next WC, but I can’t complain about getting a chance to see a local New York edition of outdoor hockey.

UPDATE, 01/04/2009: Courtesy of Puck Daddy (who I’ll also thank for the trackback and featured blockquoting), here’s the ratings breakdown for the WC among the nation’s top-ten markets, by local rating/share:

1. Chicago 11.8/21; 2. Detroit 10.5/20; 3. Buffalo 10.1/20; 4. St. Louis 5.3/10; 5. Pittsburgh 4.4/8; 6. Denver 4.2/10; 7. Providence 3.5/7; 8. Indianapolis 3.4/6; 9. West Palm Beach 3.3/6; 10. Orlando 3.2/5.

Pleasantly surprising as far as the geographic breadth. I’m not so surprised with the strength of the Florida showing, but am surprised that my old home region of Tampa Bay didn’t crack this ten — and got beat out by rival Orlando, to boot.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/03/2021 05:43:51 PM
Category: Basketball, Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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bottomless up
In uncertain economic times, it’s important to know where you can cop a sorrow-drowning free drink — and indeed, where you’re encouraged to do so. So myopenbar.com, which alerts people as to where the latest promotional alcohol giveaways are being held, is performing a recessionary social service.

Not to mention building a pretty good business model:

Myopenbar.com has 30,000 subscribers in New York, most of them in their 20s and 30s, the very demographic that liquor companies want to reach. The site also has listings for five other cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Honolulu) that have attracted 19,000 subscribers, and it has 30 employees. [Founders Seva] Granik, 33, and [Jason] Fried, 34, declined to say how much revenue the site generates, but they said it was profitable, both through advertising (Toyota Scion and American Apparel are among the sponsors) and the consulting fees that they collect for holding, marketing and promoting events. Those events are noted on the site; otherwise, bars and liquor companies do not have to pay to be listed.

This sounds very much like the ingredients that go into Thrillist, DailyCandy.com, and other email-subscription powered services. Since those Web 1.0-type operations are proven to make big money and attract even bigger acquisition offers, I foresee a very bright future for this venture.

I also foresee regular check-ins for me on the New York City edition of the site. The immediate lineup of free-flowing spirits around Manhattan seems to be heavy on the vodka; that’s acceptable, although considering the nippy weather, I’d prefer a more warming whisky or rum. Moochers can’t be choosers, though — even marketing-friendly ones.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/03/2021 04:48:57 PM
Category: Food, Internet, New Yorkin', Society
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As if second-hand smoke wasn’t enough of a stealth health hazard, now “third-hand smoke” has been identified as an even more pervasive silent killer.

Actually, it’s more of an invisible killer — more smoke-like than actually smoke:

“Everyone knows that second-hand smoke is bad, but they don’t know about this,” said Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

“When their kids are out of the house, they might smoke. Or they smoke in the car. Or they strap the kid in the car seat in the back and crack the window and smoke, and they think it’s okay because the second-hand smoke isn’t getting to their kids,” Dr. Winickoff continued. “We needed a term to describe these tobacco toxins that aren’t visible.”

Third-hand smoke is what one smells when a smoker gets in an elevator after going outside for a cigarette, he said, or in a hotel room where people were smoking. “Your nose isn’t lying,” he said. “The stuff is so toxic that your brain is telling you: ’Get away.’”

While the concept of second-hand smoke caught on and led to changes in smoker behavior — mainly physical removal outdoors to smoke or directing exhalation toward a window — I don’t see similar success in promoting third-hand smoke. If you don’t see it, it’s not going to be considered an immediate-enough nuisance for anyone to, say, jump in the shower right after puffing up. Everyone already knows how toxic tobacco is anyway — the unseen residue isn’t going to convince anyone to further shift their habits.

UPDATE, 01/11/2009: My comedy radar wasn’t on when I first wrote this. Otherwise, I would have picked up on what a commenter noticed about the name Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff, the Harvard University doctor/faculty member quoted above: “Winickoff” resembles “when-I-cough”, as in smoke-related coughing — kinda.

However, no parody here. Dr. Winickoff is the real deal, as you can tell from the link above. And if that’s not enough, maybe this link will convince. In addition, I actually called Dr. W’s office and got his voicemail. If you’re paranoid enough to think all that is an elaborate ruse by the anti-smoking faction, then you probably have more phobias than just lingering carcinogenic smoke…

I will say, though, that Winickoff is probably a good candidate for inclusion on the list of name-vocational pairings maintained at Brown University.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/03/2021 04:24:03 PM
Category: Science, Society, Wordsmithing
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Let’s face it: There’s a reason why they coined the idiom “like a bull in a china shop”. And no mythological merger between human and bovine is going to temper that bullish behavior enough to justify a career path in the handling of fragile finery.

At least, not without taking out beaucoup damage insurance. Luckily, the kicking-in of said insurance looks to be the main fun in online videogame Minotaur China Shop:

Serve fine china to discerning mythological customers. Breaking items will cost you money. However, break LOTS of items and you’ll enter Minotaur Rage, a crippling psychological condition. Your insurance will reimburse you for any items broken while enraged.

Check out the all-too-predictable service-sector carnage:

[Minotaur China Shop Trailer from Flashbang Studios on Vimeo]

And get further insight into this struggle with anger-management by reading the literally-bullheaded shopowner’s own personal diary:

It’s my damned arms. They’re what got me into trouble in the first place, what always get me in trouble. They’re just slightly bigger than I know what to do with, and with my dyspraxia, sometimes when I turn around I lose track of how close I am to something. Things get knocked over. I just get so mad at myself! If I just slow down, calm myself, and think straight, it’s fine. But when I break something I feel so guilty, I feel so worthless, and I just start to see red.

I don’t see why it should happen to me. I never did anything wrong. I’ve been a decent minotaur — I never asked to be this way. It’s my pervert mother’s fault. That FREAK. What was she even thinking? I mean, seriously. And then my bastard father puts me in a labyrinth because he doesn’t have any parenting skills.

Tea, sympathy, and rage against the espresso machine. Add that all up into videogaming fun!

Actually, I haven’t played the game. It’s not a regular-issue Flash-driven app, but rather requires a plugin called Unity, and I’m not inclined to install yet another browser add-on. Plus, gameplay looks a little too complex for my tastes, especially when the shop-wrecking payoff is all I’d be after anyway. Maybe when/if they port it to the iTouch.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/03/2021 01:17:52 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Videogames
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