directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: NHL ratings surge

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NHL ratings surge

I was just reading this about the NHL's ratings rise over on

He'll join Versus at a time when the network is crowing over its postseason ratings. According to the network's giddy spokesperson, the quarterfinals were up 33 percent, the conference semifinals were up 50 percent and, as of Friday, the conference finals were up 71 percent. (All together now: Thank you, Sidney Crosby.)

Obviously, we're talking small numbers compared to the NFL, but Game 2 of the Penguins-Flyers conference final was the most-watched telecast (2,345,834 viewers) in the history of the network, beating the final day of the 2005 Tour de France. The game also marked the most-viewed NHL cable telecast (playoff or regular season) since the 2002-03 season. NBC's ratings are also up during the postseason, according to the network. (The Penguins Game 5-clinching win over the Flyers drew a monster 26.1 rating in Pittsburgh and a 46 share.) Assuming Detroit can close out Dallas, the NHL will have its most marketable star (Crosby) against one of the most rabid fan bases (Detroit). As always, network executives will root for volume. Ratings rise as a series gets deeper.

"Sidney has proven to be a marketable guy," says Messier. "He was put in a position to carry the NHL from a marketing standpoint and he has really responded for a young guy. The league can lean on him."

This is obviusly good news for the league despite my despite for the Wings being in the final.

Taking off my CBJ rose colored glasses for a second....a final of the Wings and Pens is indeed a ratings dream for the NHL and should hopefully provide a much needed shot in the arm for a battered and bruised league still recovering from a lockout just 3 short years ago.

Its been a long road to recovery since the 04 lockout that saw the NHL become the first major pro sports league to cancel an entire season. With the outdoor game this year and improved ratings throughout the season and into the finals, its getting real hard for those ESPN ego maniacs to find new ways bash the league. Its always been ratings, ratings, ratings.

Now of course the NHL will never be a ratings driven league and that subject will always be an easy target for canned criticism. The NHL though has never been (even in the mythical Rangers 94 cup run) and never will be a ratings giant. It will always be a gate driven league with a game best viewed in person.

Still though any ratings bump is a good sell for the NHL - its a positive sign, something to build from both for its image and add revenue sales with its television partners. With their marque star Sidney Crosby already making his Stanley Cup Finals debut in just his 3rd season the momentum should only continue.

Its also a bit of a vindication in my mind that Versus is doing just fine as a cable home for the NHL and contrary to what those mouthpieces at Bristol say people are finding the network. Versus was already getting the same number as ESPN2 garnered last year with less househoulds and is only growing its footprint. That modest .2 average has climbed to .3 this season from 261,760 a game from an average of 195,666.

I always thought that argument was a load anyways - in the days of hundreds of channels with guides people will find what they want to watch. If you listen to these people its a wonder if any of them have watched a sports telecast in HD -- afterall they may have to actually pull up their guide and use their melons for a second.

It should be a good final - not great in my mind of course..well because Columbus isn't there. Its also the first final in three years that doesn't involve a Canadian team which will only make the US ratings stronger.
Personally though I can't wait for it to end so we can get on the CBJ extreme makeover.


No comments: