I can hear Andy Williams voice as I type….It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Of course I am referring to none other than hockey season. My opinion may be bias. I grew up in a house of hockey heads. My father grew up playing hockey, which means that myself and all my brothers had to grow up playing hockey. And to if you ask me, there’s no greater game out there. There was nothing that could pull us away from the TV while watching some of this great game. Our nights revolved around the game. If the Rangers were on TV it meant that we got to eat dinner in the living room that night. Waiting for a stop in play or commercial just to go to the bathroom in fear that we would miss a goal……or even better…a fight. Keep in mind this was before the DVR’s. There was no rewinding. If you missed something you had to cross your fingers and pray to the hockey gods that it was good enough for the network to show a replay.
The NHL is better than ever. It seems like every season it gets more fun to watch. The best teams are securing playoff spots making for exciting Stanley Cup finals. Just last season, the four teams that made it to the Stanley Cup finals all scored at least 100 points in the regular season. The days of the first line center or left wing scoring all the goals are in the rear view. Teams have talent that runs all the way to the third line. It is an exciting time for hockey as speed and agility are valued more than power hits and goal scoring. The game couldn’t be more exciting yet the viewership hasn’t changed at all. Let’s dive deeper and figure out why the ratings are dropping quicker than the gloves.
Could it be the source?
In today’s day and age with online streaming, via smart tv or cell phone, its easy to see how the NHL could have a drop in ratings last year. Streaming games through a jailbroke amazon fire stick doesn’t record ratings and gives fan access to every game. Which appeals to a NY Rangers fan living in Texas or the Tampa Bay Lightning fan from NJ. According to Sports Media Watch 2017-18 NHL regular season games averaged 417K viewers across the country. This included NBC digital streaming platforms as well. Viewership dropped 12% from the prior year and was the lowest average NBC has seen since 2010-11. If this was the case then sports across the board would decline. Im not buying this excuse.
Is it the area you live?
Let’s take into account where we live. If the closest team to your location is no good at hockey. Then the chances of you or your friends turning on the TV to watch are slim to none. Here is a breakdown of the top 10 local markets towards the end of the 2017-18 NHL season.
- Myers (Tied)
- Washington DC (Tied)
See a pattern here?? If you guessed these are the top 10 areas from teams who made the playoffs then you are correct. Some cities of NHL teams that have fallen in the ranks have disappeared from the ratings chart. Take “Hockey Town” itself, Detroit, for example. Or the rest of the teams in the original six not on the top 10 ranking. Chicago missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, and their fans were quick to turn off the TV and move on with their lives. The same pattern was seen in NY, Toronto and Montreal. Teams that are performing better are more likely to see a jump in ratings. Take a look at Nashville for example. Last year they saw the highest jump in the ratings rankings, which isn’t surprising after a Stanley Cup finals appearance the year before. Of course teams that are winning make the ratings jump. But they should be climbing as a whole.
Is it the sport itself?
I had said in the very beginning that I am bias. I fell in love with this sport when I was young and never looked back. What is it about hockey that turns people off? I cant tell you how any times someone has said to me “I can only watch hockey is I go to a game live.” And for a long time, I never understood that point of view. They think hockey on TV is boring? How? Maybe if they said baseball it would make sense…but hockey? There may be more truth to that statement than I had thought. We said before that the average hockey game grabs the attention of 417k viewers. That’s not including your local sports network or streaming platforms. The NHL has been creative throwing in games such as the winter classic and stadium series games, drawing in an average of 2.5 million viewers. Week 3 in the NFL the Dallas Cowboys played the Seattle Seahawks and had 22.2 MILLION VIEWERS. 10 times the amount of viewers would rather watch a random week 3 NFL game than the winter classic on January 1st. when everyone is hanging around the house recuperating from their viscous hangovers and prior nights mistakes. Just look at the rest of these numbers for comparison.
Viewership for the Stanley Cup Playoffs- 4.8 million (down from 5.8 million in 2013)
Viewership for MLB Opening Day- 3.6 million
Viewership for MLB World Series- 18.9 million
Viewership for average NFL Sunday Game- 20 million
No I won’t post Superbowl ratings. At this time, there’s no point. Maybe there isn’t any secret to boost ratings or make hockey appeal to everyone. Hopefully the numbers only move up and we can find a scapegoat for the dip in ratings like the president, or…the president. Perhaps as new teams start winning again, fans will start watching. For the time being ill enjoy my sport, looking at the ratings it appears ill enjoy it to myself, in my living room, eating dinner, only this time I can hit pause if I need to pee.