It wasn’t that long ago that I followed the NHL. I’ve attended more than a few Kings games at Staples Center, I’d catch games on TV when it’s on and I usually know whats going on in the playoffs. This season, even though I’m a marginal fan, I’ve about as much of a clue whats going on in the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup as I do about the NBA playoffs…and I have zero interest in the NBA.
The last few years have been tough on the NHL. They expanded quickly…too quickly. They had a sweet TV deal which is now a thing of the past and they seem to be fighting to maintain their foothold in most of the US. Currently, the national TV deal they have is with VERSUS…a channel I only watch in July–Tour de France. Unless you are a big fan, chances are you haven’t seen much NHL on TV this winter.
Even with all that, it seems things have reached an all-time low. For all the complaining posters on BigSoccer have done over the years about games being delayed or preempted for other events, ESPN hasn’t done anything like this to any MLS game for a long time.
Some interesting points from the blog post I liked to above.
Several months back the NHL and NBC agreed to an over-the-air network extension along terms that where similar to the current – no money down, pay as we want to agreement (Call it what it is – community theatre – we’ll pass the hat around revenue generating plan).
Mmm….kinda makes the time-buy coverage MLS used to have look a little better.
Television ratings for Game 7 of this year’s Stanley Cup finals dropped 21 percent from the final game of the National Hockey League’s last championship series two years ago.
By comparison, the first game played by the United States in the World Cup soccer tournament was a much bigger ratings hit. The June 12, 3-0 loss by the U.S. team to the Czech Republic earned a 2.4 cable rating on ESPN2, which translates to 2.14 million viewers. What made it more impressive is that the game was played at noon Eastern Time on a Monday, when many people are at work.
Which I’m betting is a large part of the reason why MLS is now getting paid for their content.
Amazing as it may seem, Red Wings and Ducks 40 percent of the homes in Detroit and Anaheim respectively have been unable to access Versus and therefore watch their teams pursuit of Lord Stanley – par for the course for the Tier II National Hockey League. And for the NHL – you reap what you sow – the only real issue who needs to be held accountable for the shame the NHL is saddled with as the league gets ready to host its championship.
It really seems like NHL has made some very poor decisions and are heading in the wrong direction. I’ve a feeling contraction (remember when MLS got rid of Florida?) isn’t too far away.
Of course, even if MLS were considered now more popular than NHL, that’s still not saying to much considering the current situation the NHL is in. But it’s still a step in the right direction for MLS and soccer.