April 20, 2004

Could it be? NHL ratings are up.

posted by garfield to hockey at 10:25 AM - 17 comments

I can see it. Save for the incredibly inconsistent officiating, these playoffs have showcased some terrific hockey. Plus, we all have to get our fix in now because who knows what we will have to watch this time next year.

posted by 86 at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2004

"Hey, look on the brightside." "Yeah, the brightside." A whole 2.1 million american televisions were tuned to the game. Shit, there have to be more sports bars in the country than 2.1 million. And canada, a tenth the size, has double the televisions tuned in. I stopped taking mathematics in highschool, but there has to be some fancy schmancy way to dress up those numbers. What's the average viewership of the NBA playoffs? Last year's Finals, not so good, with 10 million viewers and 20% of the audience. No wonder ESPN didn't have a hockey playoff fantasy game this year.

posted by garfield at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2004

I like/watch all of the big 4 U.S. pro sports, but it's hard to deny that hockey is the most exciting. That it has the smallest audience is baffling to me. I know, I know -- Can't see the puck!

posted by dzot at 12:02 PM on April 20, 2004

I think a big part of hockey's problem is that very few of us actually get out and play that sport just for the hell of it, and then develop an interest. It's not like little kids are strapping on their Bauers (and puttin' on the foil, coach!) and running out into their front yards in the summer.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:18 PM on April 20, 2004

Growing up in my neighborhood we used to play a lot of street hockey. We also used to like to go to hockey games (College and AHL) but I can't ever remember being the slightest bit interested in watching it on TV. I can see it working the other way around, though. If a kid likes hockey, he (or she) is more likely to want to invest all the time and effort into getting the right equipment and heading out to the rink. I'm not sure why you would go through all that if you didn't have some kind of spark of interest to begin with.

posted by Jugwine at 12:29 PM on April 20, 2004

Hmm, just throwing out a thought here... is it possible that the Bertuzzi incident may have actually *helped* the ratings?

posted by tj at 01:05 PM on April 20, 2004

Let me expand on that so I don't seem like an idiot. The Bertuzzi-Moore hit put the spotlight on the sport near the end of one of the best seasons in a very long time. As much as I hate Bettman, the league's reaction was quick and the sentence was handed soon enough for the nonfan to remember seeing the clip on Sportscenter, and made it a lead story-- which pushed the NHL coverage, of quite some very close races to get into the playoffs, earlier in the show. And now people are getting hooked. Like I said, just a thought.

posted by tj at 01:12 PM on April 20, 2004

I like/watch all of the big 4 U.S. pro sports... This misnomer is becoming more and more apparent to me all the time.....in the U.S. after NFL, MLB and NBA, there are also college football (bowl time), college basketball (tourney time), NASCAR, golf and WWE that come before NHL. The so-called "Big 4" seems to be a leftover from the days of the Original Six. Am I wrong here? 86: very important point about the coming (non-)season. tj: interesting thesis and I can't say I disagree with you either. Top of mind recall is one of the most important consumption heuristics. I might also suggest that having 5 Canadian teams in the playoffs this year hasn't hurt the ratings either. Even ex-pat Canadian viewers in the U.S. would have lifted those numbers if more Canadian teams were involved, no?

posted by smithers at 02:45 PM on April 20, 2004

The increased TV ratings in Canada are simply a by product of more Canadian teams being involved in the playoffs this year. I think the reason for the higher US numbers are somewhat because of the increase publicity that the Bertuzzi incident created. However I also believe that playoff hockey so far this year has been much more entertaining that last year. I can only admit to really watching the Van/Cal, Mon/Bos & Ott/Tot series, but they have all really good. The Van/Cal easily being the best of the bunch. From what I've heard the other series have been high caliber games as well.

posted by camcanuck at 03:16 PM on April 20, 2004

If the ratings are up it's not because of me. ;-]

posted by Bag Man at 06:31 PM on April 20, 2004

ESPN had actually been leading sportscenter with the NHL highlights too. Maybe not now with NBA playoffs, but even without them, I was shocked. Hockey has gotten the shaft on that show for as long as I can remember.

posted by Bernreuther at 11:34 PM on April 20, 2004

>may have actually *helped* the ratings? Maybe there really is no bad publicity. The dead-line sell-offs were the same sort of publicity. My uncle doesn't follow hockey much, but living in New York state, he knew Leetch was traded. I think there's interest in catching the older players before they all disappear in a massive wave. Anyone over 35, except Gary Roberts and Mario Lemieux (for different reasons, perhaps), is expected to retire. Yzerman, Stevens, Robitaille, Andreychuk, Chelios, Hull, Mogilny, Francis, Mike Keane, Belfour, maybe Cujo. Numminen, Turgeon. And Jacques Lemaire isn't around to grind things to a stand still.

posted by Philfromhavelock at 12:11 AM on April 21, 2004

One fact left out is that three of the original six are still in the playoffs, which certainly is good for generating big-city interest.

posted by insomnyuk at 01:02 AM on April 21, 2004

CBC's higher ratings are a no brainer -- two all Canadian match-ups, with a fifth Canadian team battling an Original Six rival. The fact that ALL those series went to game seven surely helped too (HNIC must be so damned happy right now). But, with the CBC getting more coverage, TSN's ratings go down. And with only one non-Canadian series this round, TSN is likely not too happy.

posted by mkn at 10:20 AM on April 21, 2004

Smithers said: The so-called "Big 4" seems to be a leftover from the days of the Original Six. Am I wrong here? No, you're completely right. There's a ton of hockey fans online for whatever reason, but it's really dropped off the map in terms of major media interest.

posted by Justin Slotman at 03:42 PM on April 21, 2004

There's a ton of hockey fans online for whatever reason We are shunned in public, so we congregate behind screen names to avoid our shame.

posted by garfield at 09:12 AM on April 22, 2004

That, and you kinda get sick of talking to dunderheads who, even though they didn't know your city had a hockey team until 1995 or so, consider themselves experts...kinda like talking to Barry Melrose...

posted by MeatSaber at 09:34 AM on April 22, 2004

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