Friday, May 30, 2008

A word on TV ratings

In general, I don't get in a snit over low television ratings in the U.S. If more people want to watch According to Jim than Red Wings-Penguins, that's fine by me (and indicative of a problem with the audience rather than the sport).

In any event, here's a very quick comparison of the Game 3 ratings for the Stanley Cup finals. First, the numbers in hockey's homeland:
In Canada, the CBC drew 2.042 million. RDS's audience was 684,000.
Let's call that 2.7 even. Not bad, but then again, nowhere near the figures Canadian television was pulling in when the Canadiens were still involved (some games there had more than three million viewers in Quebec alone).

Here's Game 3's American figures:
NBC was barely on the map with game three of the NHL Stanley Cups Finals at an estimated (and fourth place) 4.46 million viewers and a 1.9/5 among adults 18-49 from 8-11 p.m.
It's certainly possible that I'm a cretin when it comes to this stuff, but is it not fair to say that there are actually, in fact, a great deal more people watching the finals on NBC in the U.S. than Canadians on CBC and RDS?

4.46 > 2.7

Yes, the U.S. is a far larger country (304 million to 33 million, more than nine times bigger), but there are huge swaths of the nation that have zero interest in the sport. The numbers so far are a home run in Pittsburgh and the NHL is beating out the NBA's own title chase in Detroit, where the Pistons have won six division titles in seven years.

Ten million people watch So You Think You Can Dance a week in the United States. These are "potential viewers" I believe hockey can live without.
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18 Comments:

At 10:02 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger therealdeal said...

James, thank you. Finally someone with a voice is willing to say what real hockey fans have been thinking for years. There isn't a problem with the game, some people just don't get it.

Hockey is probably never going to attract the people watching bowling and we shouldn't be kowtowing to them.

 
At 10:27 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger Down Goes Brown said...

"... indicative of a problem with the audience rather than the sport..."

I disagree. I think its an issue with both.

Yes, the US audience's taste in sports is a head-scratcher sometimes. But let's not let the NHL off the hook.

The game is still far too choppy and defensive. The reduction in fighting caused some casual fans to lose interest without the expected gains in other areas. The league is getting better at promoting the individual players, but dropped the ball in that area for years.

Hockey's a great game, but even the most hardcore fan would have to admit that we're not exactly living in the NHL's golden era of entertainment value.

 
At 10:32 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

DGB, I'm talking about people who would rather watch According to Jim.

Hockey can't correct what ails those viewers.

 
At 10:59 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Interesting take on the ratings situation. Here's a question: If the NHL can't garner better ratings in The Hockey Homeland,(Canada) how can it expect to get much higher ratings in the US where there are large areas that never see ice/snow year round?
2) From reading many Canadian team-based blogs/articles there seems to be a generalized apathy for the NHL once their team is eliminated.
3) This is something we don't tend to see with MLB, NBA, and definitely not in the NFL where football fans will watch the playoffs/super bowl even if their team is not in it.
4) We could understand this 'apathy' here in the states where hockey interest is so regionalized, but find it curious that this situation is so pervasive up in Canada as well where one would think folks are hockey fans first, and partisans of their team second.

 
At 11:03 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger GCFB said...

Well that Apathy isn't taking hold in Buffalo, who is right behind Detroit in viewership of the finals. Which doesn't add the Buffalo viewers who watch CBC.

Hate to play homer, but Buffalo is the real Hockeytown in the US. Minneapolis/St.Paul might have a argument.

 
At 11:06 AM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous degroat said...

What does everyone appear to miss the obvious when it comes to TV ratings?

Ratings in hockey will always be relative to the teams involved.

This is the first time since 2003 that the Finals have not featured a Canadian team.

No Canadian team = Lower ratings in Canada

Two American teams = Higher ratings in the US

Taking it a step further, the Wings have more fans than any other here in the US.

Throw in Sidney Crosby and you probably have the best matchup for US ratings that the NHL could possibly have.

Next year, unless these same two teams are in the Finals, the ratings will almost certainly be worse in the US than they are this year. This doesn't mean that the NHL is going downhill. It just means that the teams actually playing have fewer fans.

 
At 11:18 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Disagree degroat about this being the apex of ratings possibilities in the US.
2) Have the NY Rangers against anyone(see 1994) and you'll get higher ratings.

 
At 11:37 AM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Numbers in Canada are bad if you think Canada as a home for hockey.

Sweden and Finland get better numbers in their own league finals. I believe Czech and Swiss, too.

Who cares about U.S. when over 90% of Canadians ignore finals.

 
At 11:41 AM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous degroat said...

Faux - Generally I would agree, but because of Crosby I think the Penguins would draw as well as the Rangers would.

 
At 11:47 AM, May 30, 2008, Blogger Daniel said...

Degroat has a very good point. You can look at basketball and see the same thing. People don't like to see the Spurs in the finals, because they play a boring brand of basketball. People love watching LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or the entire Suns team run up and down the floor. San Antonio plays with mathematical precision and limits mistakes to succeed.

Sounds like Detroit or New Jersey of the NHL. Detroit can score though, they have superstars and other notables and they are the Detroit Red Wings. This is the best lineup the league could have hoped for. Get the two best teams, one of whom has the leagues featured face.

 
At 1:58 PM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

Meh, it's not like there aren't a myriad of problems with the way that numbers are calculated.

People love to talk about Toronto as being a Leafs' only city but I was in a packed pub Wednesday night and everyone was very invested in the game.

2) From reading many Canadian team-based blogs/articles there seems to be a generalized apathy for the NHL once their team is eliminated.
3) This is something we don't tend to see with MLB, NBA, and definitely not in the NFL where football fans will watch the playoffs/super bowl even if their team is not in it.


Faux, I would argue that just because they aren't writing about the games doesn't mean that they aren't following them.

 
At 2:12 PM, May 30, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) PPP: These blogs are writing about how they aren't really following the Finals with much interest because their teams/a Canadian based team(s) aren't involved.
2) We would expect to see that kind of reaction more here in the states, but find it kind of interesting to see up there. The folks at the NHL, who probably take their Canadian fans for granted, should sit up and take notice!

 
At 2:27 PM, May 30, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

One quick point: the Stanley Cup Finals are still the front page on every sports section in Canada, and the lead story on all highlight shows.

 
At 3:00 PM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what the weather's like outside anybody else's window, but around here it's definitely not hockey weather.
I'd say several million viewers is a coup for a winter league when the championship is held mid-summer.

 
At 3:14 PM, May 30, 2008, Blogger Leon Westbrook said...

Who cares about ratings?

The NHL makes a killing via Merchandise and ticket sales, not TV ratings.

If you want to debate ratings, well for all sports except for the NFL ratings are down due to the myriad of options available now vs. 20 years ago.

 
At 5:50 PM, May 30, 2008, Blogger itchit said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:15 PM, May 30, 2008, Blogger itchit said...

@Anon -Holy crap is it already mid-summer? Where does the time go?
Seriously though, good point.

@DGB -"The reduction in fighting caused some casual fans to lose interest without the expected gains in other areas." -the NHL has to make up it's mind on fighting. Either let em fight at center ice with UFC gloves on and the loser takes a 1 minute penalty or ban it outright. You're not going to attract any 5 year old fans (lifelong fans if you get em a 5) with Mapleleaf Kris Newbury lying on his back unconscious with blood streaming out of his ears. This halfway between isn't satisfying either side.
By the way, it's not the instigator rule that's the problem- it's the 10 minute misconduct. That encourages the cheap shots to get the star player to fight, and also makes the goon necesary to "rescue" the "princess" star player.
What were we talking about again?

 
At 8:24 AM, June 01, 2008, Blogger NYIsles1/IslesTigers said...

" 2) Have the NY Rangers against anyone(see 1994) and you'll get higher ratings "

So how come Rangers-Canucks got only a 2.5 rating on avg for their series in 1994 which was on Espn?

From the same Sports Illustrated:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/john_rolfe/05/23/nhl.issues/index.html


Apocalypse not
Lousy postseason TV ratings are an NHL way of life
Posted: Tuesday May 23, 2006

"The NHL must have a big-market matchup with marquee stars!" the prophets howl from the steam grates, condemning the piteous 2.6 average Nielsen rating awarded to the 2004 Calgary vs. Tampa Bay final on ABC -- Game 7 of which pulled in a 4.2, or roughly 6.3 million American viewers. (Not included were the record-high 5.56 million Canadians ogling the game action on the CBC.)

Even with Canadians out of the mix, the merchants of doom forget that the 1994 marquee event of Mark Messier's New York Rangers seeking their first Cup in 54 years against the Vancouver Canucks drew a 5.2 for Game 7, but an average of only 2.5 for the series, although those tilts were on ESPN, which had 63 million subscribers.

 

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