Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stanley Cup: NBCSN v. Not-NBCSN

Yesterday The New York Times published a story about how NBC, the carrier of this year's Stanley Cup, decided to air games 3 and 4 on its upstartish NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) as a means to raising the network's ratings, which might enable it to push more cable and satellite providers to carry it. While this is a common broadcasting ploy, the fact that one of the US's four major professional sporting championships was aired on a network with an audience that is only 80% of that of ESPN and ESPN2 is of consequence. (Consider that a professional championship is being played on a channel that you don't know the number of off the top of your head.)

The Times reports that game 3 on NBCSN drew 1.7 million viewers, which represented a 37% decline from game 3 on the previous Stanley Cup. By contrast, the NBA Western Conference Finals, which are being played between two small market teams (LA and NY/NJ, the Stanley Cup teams, happen to hail from the two largest markets) are averaging just under 8 million viewers per game.To grant you some perspective the NBA Finals usually averages around 10 million viewers, the World Series 10-12 million and, the Superbowl trumps all at about 110 million. 1.7 million viewers is about what a new episode of Tosh.O or Storage Wars draws.

One argument would be that hockey simply isn't that popular anymore. While it might not possesses the audience of the other three major sports, historically its averaged between two and three times what it's received on NBCSN. The real problem is that since 2005 when ESPN dropped NHL the league lost its best platform for publicity. On Sportscenter, anchors, like John Buccigross, who openly push for more hockey coverage, often joke that analyst Barry Melrose is the ESPN hockey department.

ESPN, and Sportscenter in particular, represents the definitive platform for general sports news. Of course, the internet has infinite sports information--including a site dedicated to the sociocultural misunderstandings of LeBron James, the foolishness of even thinking of comparing Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan, and other issues of far left femi-radicalism--but it operates more to fulfill individuals' niche interests. Besides gaining close to 2 million viewers for its most watched episode in a given day, Sportscenter is where the NFL fan that is seemingly disinterested in any other sport finds out that Clippers play a form of lay-up-line, dunk contest basketball that is worth a look or that opiates appear to exhibit a similar effect to that of conventional performance enhancing drugs in baseball as Josh Hamilton continues to bash home run after home run. In the end the NHL needs ESPN. Without it it runs the danger of becoming mentioned with the likes of the MLS as a second tier major sport and of being carried by networks not dedicated to hockey or sports but to using the NHL's existing popularity as a means to gain leverage on cable and satellite providers.


  1. hockey is not a good sport

  2. have you ever been to an MLS game? they are AWESOME