Dump n Chase asked in SportsHockey · 1 decade ago

Good news for the NHL?

The final attendance and TV ratings for the 2009-2010 NHL season were announced recently. Although overall attendance was down 2.2 percent, it was strong in the second half of the season and TV ratings were mostly up.


So far in the playoffs, TV viewership has returned to "pre-lockout levels."


And from various media and marketing perspectives, the NHL experienced growth in many areas: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=525478

I take those last figures with a grain of salt because they come directly from the NHL, and they seem to paint an overly positive picture. It could just be presenting the good and withholding the bad. Still, those are an awful lot of fronts to have experienced growth in.

It seems like we have been hearing that the NHL is doing better every season since the lockout. Does anyone know how this compares with the NFL, MLB, and NBA for the 2010 season (attendance and TV ratings)? Do you think the NHL will continue to grow in the near future, eventually to the point of all-time highs?

BQ: After its contract with Versus ends in 2011, what is the NHL's best course of action, both financially for the league and for us as fans? Should the NHL get back on ESPN (which a lot of people are calling for), expand its partnership with NBC, or renew its contract with Versus?


As much-maligned as ESPN is, let's face it, it is a sports media empire and it's become an instantly-recognizable brand and not just a media outlet. I agree that it would be best if the NHL gets back on ESPN.

Update 2:

First they have to figure out that fewer giveaways and penalty minutes are better, not more...they make this mistake in all of their box scores. http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=3004...

Update 3:

And CBS doesn't even understand how the playoffs work...http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/postseason/bracket

Update 4:

Yeah that makes a lot of sense Jag. More people are watching at home instead of going to the game because of the recession, which increases TV ratings and lowers attendance overall.

Update 5:

Wow...thanks LITY.

Update 6:

Found ESPN's original news release about them declining to match Comcast in 2005. I'm not sure why, but they list some different viewership numbers for the 03-04 season: 416,000 and 209,000 on ESPN and ESPN2, respectively.


Update 7:

One more question if you care to oblige me: what does the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal mean for us hockey fans? Does that change anything for the contract renegotiation or TV coverage in 2011 and beyond?

10 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    BQ: The NHL has already indicated to Vs that they will be renewing the contract and negotiations have been underway for a while. Whether the NBC deal will be renewed is up in the air.

    Why Vs? Vs averaged 381,000 viewers last season, and 368,000 this season. ESPN had a high of 261,000 in 1993-94 and in 2003-04 only had 198,000. The NHL's owners prefer the following

    - the higher guaranteed revenue from Vs ($37MM this year) as opposed to the $18MM that ESPN offered in 2005 and $17.8MM ESPN offered in 2008

    - the NHL has more of a say in what games get shown on Vs than on ESPN (ESPN's offer requires that one of 8 teams be involved in all games (Dal, Chi, Det, Pit, Wsh, Phi, NYR, and Bos - Vs has no such requirement)

    So, unless ESPN ups their financial contribution, and drops it's restriction on teams to be shown, they lose the vote of most NHL owners.

    For the record, Bettman recommended the ESPN deals in both 2005 and 2008, and both times it was voted down by the owners

    #1) The TV ratings shown are local ratings only and do not include Vs or NBC ratings. While Vs had a small decrease, NBC claimed a huge increase. It also doesn't count games watched out of market through vehicles like NHL Centre Ice or NHL Game Centre (both IBM and Comcast claim that these numbers have increased year over year as well)

    #2) The decrease in attendance was expected due to the recession (and it was expected to be bigger and result in a decrease in the salary cap). The 2.2% decrease is American only, when the 6 Canadian teams are added into the equation, the overall drop was only 1.7%......compare that to the NBA's 8.4% drop between 08-09 and 09-10, or MLB's 11.7% drop between 2008 and 2009. The attendance decrease is only the 2nd year over year decrease since the league expanded to 12 teams in 1968

    #3) The numbers on the 3rd website are provided by a 3rd party and not the NHL and have passed scrutiny by the NHLPA, the NHL, and a 3rd party US-based accountant. The NHL increased revenues year over year for the 42nd straight season and as a result the cap will increase for the 5th straight year.

    Here's information you requested (does not include the NFL because the NFL has no local coverage)


    The NHL reached it's record attendance last year, so it's not an impossibility to think that a league which has increased attendance 40x in 42 years can breach that.

    The NHL reached it's record Canadian TV numbers this year, but is still about 15% below the numbers they had in the US in 1972-73. However the decrease in NBA ratings over that time (according to Street and Smith Business Journal) is 38% and MLB ratings were down between 1970 and 2005 a total of 41% (also according to the Street and Smith Business Journal). The NFL has more than tripled their ratings in the same time frame while retaining their #1 position (also according to the Street and Smith Business Journal)

    The annual revenues for the NHL this year are at an all time high and if the economy continues to improve (as well as the Canadian dollar) then the NHL should continue in that vein. One needs to keep in mind that while the NHL continues to set revenue records, so are the other three leagues. While TV ratings and attendance may have dropped over the past year..............all 4 leagues reported record revenues in terms of corporate sponsorship (NHL up 20%) and merchandise sales.

    Edit #1: Different sources use different numbers

    Edit #2: I honestly couldn't tell you what the Comcast/NBC deal. Comcast is a major corporate sponsor of the NHL, owner of the Flyers, and the 2nd largest cable sportsnetwork in the US. As for NBC, there are several owners who think that the NHL could do better than the revenue sharing deal they have now. Some owners feel that the revenue sharing model allows NBC to short-change the league in what NBC requests from their sponsors. While I don't know if it's true or not, but one team owner (I don't know who), claims that he was approached by one of his sponsors (also an NBC sponsor) and claimed that they agreed to pay X dollars and NBC said 'no, we can take less'. That type of deal doesn't benefit the NHL (NBC accepts all revenue from sponsors and pays the NHL 50% of the profits only - so, if it costs NBC $15MM, and they recoup $14MM, the NHL gets nothing (and NBC only loses $1MM (if anything at all). So, it's quite possible that NBC is asking for less to pay the NHL less (and neither party will divulge the exact payment to the NHL, but it is greater than the ESPN deal accoerding to those who know)

    Source(s): Various
  • Your most recent question last- I'm friendly with someone who deals with media business from back when I used to write professionally. NBC does not have a cable sports station (by comparison, FOX and ABC do have these); the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal gives NBC a sportsnet they never had in Versus and have longed for. If the American FCC approves the merger and the NHL stays with NBC and Versus, then you have a single source of NHL rights in the US (you're almost there in Canada; TSN and Sportsnet regional networks are all under the CTV/Globemedia umbrella; the conspiracy types have wondered for years if CTV would ever get into a bidding war with CBC); the Olympics was (for a few) a canary-in-the-coalmine.

    CBS, I've long argued, is a non-starter for the NHL unless there's a sea change in the next round of PGA Tour rights negotiations in 2012. They have the NCAA Tournament in March, and a heavy PGA Tour schedule in April/May (while the ratings aren't the greatest, they are incredibly stable and you are drawing people with high amounts of disposable income). Here's the sticking point- Comcast owns The Golf Channel (and Versus) and has early-round PGA Tour rights tied up long term (they signed a 15-year deal in 2007).

    Your first question- I've argued for a couple years that the NHL should try to expand the tent and follow the NBA model (and to a lesser extent MLB). Leave the current deal with Versus in place (and keep the NBC deal- I still argue you need to have a free-to-air deal in place), and try to get ESPN on board as a secondary US rightsholder. Give them an exclusive window (Sunday nights seem to be the most obvious but it has to be a season-long deal), and one playoff series in the first two rounds (I'm thinking of the TBS postseason model with baseball); I'd still give Versus the first choice but once Versus picks a series they want ESPN has the next pick and they get the exclusive rights for it meaning it's off the table for NBC. If TSN and CBC can air games that go against each other, Versus and ESPN can work it out as well for 6-10 nights during the first two rounds.

  • I say they should expand with NBC AND sign with ESPN. I mean there are many people who don't even get VS. Versus is just a ridiculous channel. There is no need to have that as your main broadcaster. Get ESPN to do a game every...Thursday (?) I believe it used to be. At least they could bring in Barry Melrose who actually knows a little something about the game unlike the Versus announcers.And with the way the NHL is growing, ESPN would definitly be more than willing to cover hockey. I have noticed they have talked more about hockey this year than in the past on shows like PTI, and Around The Horn...and they actually knew what they were talking about.

    Anyways...The NHL will definitly continue to grow to all-time highs.

    A merger between Comcast and NBC does not mean much for hockey fans except there may be more Flyers games to watch on NBC since Comcast headquarters is in Philly.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    imo to go to a game or do anything you deam as fun you need expendable founds (unless you some s&m freak that gets their rocks off sending money to utilities and banks) and the world as a whole has less expendable funds money that would once have gone to taking yourself or the fam to a sporting event is now going to the greater wants and needs on the list of your expendable founds.. this is both why attendance is down and viewership is up those butts that were once in a seat are now on the couch.. I dont think ESPN could help this out much unless disney pays for us all to go to a game next year (that's my version of the happiest place on earth) NBC needs to stay the hell out of hockey i understand the finals on there but i just loath the announcers they have most times and fing with the start times so people can watch their ugly Betty's played by a okay looking chick or the biggest loser a show staring people that would be loosers at an weight is atrocious

    Source(s): in my rant i mixed the question with the bq...
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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I am not clever enough to think of any cheeseball headlines as I am in serious recovery mode. I worked retail Black Friday. Yup. Not a pretty sight. I had 8 extra people in my house for four days, four of them kids (4,5,7,& 9). We went through 10 BIG rolls of TP and overflowed the dumpy dumpster (garbage curby). I am sick of turkey and ham. I was lucky to see the inside of my eye lids much less a hockey game. Now I have loads and loads of sheets and towels. I need to figure out how to get the major scratch out of my lovely dining room table. I have had free NHL Network for almost a week and only have gotten to look at it twice. I DID, however, see about 15 episodes of iCarly which is WAY better than the ten or so episodes of SpongeBob we were blessed with. Plus, the little guy (5) got extra attention because he was the only boy child so we watched Spiderman six times.

  • Snid
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Yes, I think that's good news for the NHL. I also think (and boo me, thumbs me down if you must) the little puck bunnies are helping. Get a teen age girl hepped up on something and it goes crazy.

    BQ: PLEASE boot Versus! I don't like NBC too much either. ESPN would be okay, I guess. As long as it's not Fox and the stupid glow puck.

  • Nick H
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    The Olympics really helped with the rise in ratings. No idea why Bettman wouldn't want NHL players going to Sochi in 2014.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago


    The official National Hockey League web site includes features, news, rosters, statistics, schedules, teams, live game radio broadcasts, and video clips.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Cool haha

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago


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