Ducks Win the Cup, Did Anyone Notice?
The NHL’s low television ratings and popularity in the US continues to be a major problem for the sport, yet just when you think it cannot possibly get worse it does. NBC’s Game Three coverage of the Stanley Cup, sports most hallowed trophy, netted the worst primetime ratings in the network’s history. Put that in perspective for a second. The NHL championship scored lower ratings than any show NBC has ever put on the air. Listing some of those shows would only embarrass hockey more.
All three games broadcast on NBC saw double-digit percent ratings decreases since last year, more viewers watched a rain delay at the Indy 500, and Versus coverage of Games One and Two came in right behind such colossal hits as Food Networks “Build a Better Burger” and reruns of ‘80’s sitcom “Mamas Family”. I thought I was having a bad week, ouch!
Having a Canadian team playing a traditionally Canadian sport certainly does not boost US ratings, but the public almost has to forcibly try to avoid watching for ratings this bad. Thankfully, the Ducks put the NHL out of its misery for now, allowing the league to revisit the drawing board.
How can hockey solve its problem? Should they abandon broadcast television, beg ESPN to take them back, make a major online push, or some combination of the three? Gary Bettman is on the hot seat to respond. There remains more questions than answers for now.