NHL Local TV Ratings on the Rise

This isn't to be taken as a shot at any other sport's television ratings. It's not my lame attempt to start a competition with another sports league.

(The preceding was an attempt to keep the paranoid NBA fans from thinking that this is something it's not.)

I'm only here to report the news. And this piece of news is very good for the NHL.

According to Nielsen, seven of 30 NHL teams are showing an increase of at least 33% in local television ratings from last season.

Granted, it's early in the season, but the league has to be happy seeing huge viewership increases in markets like Washington (140%), Chicago (71%), New York (33%), and Los Angeles (33%).

Also on the list of big gainers: San Jose (50%), Denver (36%), and Phoenix (33%). Even Buffalo, where ratings have always been strong, is showing a double-digit increase so far (14%).

Nationally, Canadian broadcasters are doing well.

Hockey Night in Canada viewership has grown in all time slots, with the pregame show making the largest gain. It's averaging 527,000 viewers, for an increase of 56 per cent over last year.

The Game 1 audience is 1.348 million, up 13 per cent.

Game 2's 763,000 is 19 per cent higher than last year.

... TSN's NHL telecasts have an average audience of 496,000 viewers, up 21 per cent from last year.

RDS is averaging 773,000 viewers for Montreal Canadiens games, available nationally, up 21 per cent.

My wife, who is infinitely smarter than I am, believes the economy is at least partially to blame. With people more worried about the short-term future than before, more and more are staying at home instead of going out and spending money. The more casual hockey fans, who are not necessarily inclined to buy $50 seats to games, suddenly have a chance to watch games on television for free. It's just a theory, but I think it's a good one.

I'm not a good example of any of this, because I've always been a bit of a homebody. I have Center Ice, and I'm more likely to spend my evening watching hockey games than going out and spending money.

While not every market is showing an increase in ratings, and the national numbers are still not great on Versus, there are signs of growth in the league. You can't possibly consider this bad news if you're an NHL fan.

NHL Local TV Ratings on the Rise originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Thu, 04 Dec 2008 16:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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