Before I start this post, I am already aware of the ESPN and World Cup of Hockey thing, but this is different.
Also, Online Stories are WAY different than TV.
I talking Television, not Online.
There are two things that NHL fans hate now a days, one being Gary Bettman,
and the other being ESPN. (sorry, ESPN)
…and maybe also the Salary Cap
All Hockey Fans alike share a hatred of ESPN, purely due to the fact that they don’t show or mention anything pertaining to the NHL, or hockey in general. Even NHL teams themselves have shared their hatred, just take a peek at this exchange involving the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2014.
(I feel you, Nashville)
ESPN denies our existence, however, we have fan bases just as big as any NBA or MLB team they will ever show.
I want to bring the NHL games to ESPN. (after the deal with NBCSN, of course)
ESPN is one of the most popular sports channels in the country. With free access on platforms like iOS and Google’s Chromecast, it is also the most accessible. Channels like NBCSN, which shows NHL games on a regular basis, is only accessible through cable packages and monthly deals with NBC itself. Adding NHL to ESPN will attract more fans to the NHL as a whole, and make our fan base as large as NFL size.
To look into this further, I decided to look into ratings of NHL games that were live on NBCSN and NBC, which are the only two cable platforms that show NHL games and footage. I used games from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
According to Sports Business Daily, NHL games had an average of 351,000 viewers per NHL game (2013-14) and 349,000 per game in 2014-15. This is not including viewers for NBC itself, just NBCSN. If we add NBC, we get 1,683,000 viewers in 2013-14 and 1,532,000 in 2014-15. NBC (not NBCSN) showed only 12 games in 2014-15, and only one extra in 2013-14. However, Stanley Cup Finals have shown amazing viewership. The 2013 playoff series between the Bruins and Blackhawks had an average of 3.3 million viewers, with games 2 and 3 shown on NBCSN (which had a whooping 4 million each!).
Hockey has proven to be a growing market, and with teams in Las Vegas and Quebec City hopefully on their way soon, the NHL will soon be something that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
Those numbers might not sound amazing compared to the SuperBowl, but the two seasons mentioned above are among the top three years of NHL viewership in the past ten years, which gives us a bright future to look at.
ESPN, you show random pickup basketball games, golf, and other pointless stuff (spelling bees?) that gets less views than National Hockey League games any day, yet, you decide to show that stuff in favor of NHL?
and you wonder why NHL teams and fans alike hate you, like how Bruins fans don’t like the Habs.
Before you ask,
Doesn’t the NHL play the same exact season as the NBA?
This is true, however the NBA is the most publicized sport in the United States. The NHL playoffs compared the the NBA playoffs are totally different. The NBA, in my opinion, is very predictable. In the first round of the NBA playoffs, the top seeds went 6-2, and maybe 2 or 3 out of the eight series were competitive (The Warriors series with Pelicans was super predictable). In the 2015 NHL playoffs, the top seeds went 5-3 and all the series were competitive, with the Nashville-Chicago series having five overtime period in just one series, which was just nuts. Also, that Washington-Islanders series felt like it was never going to end. Keep in mind, NHL OT is sudden death, NBA’s is not.
So, which one is the most entertaining, huh?
Also, adding NHL to the ESPN roster will boost the Canadian market, as Hockey is the number one sport in Canada.
Airing the World Cup of Hockey in September is an idea that took me a while to get through, but I have learned to love it, it gives us a preview of what could be the future.
In a short sense,
ESPN. Less Lebron. More Hockey.
we don’t want this cry baby (we got Crosby already, gosh)
we want this.
we know you wanna ESPN, you just gotta wait till 2020-2021.