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All About Sports Ratings On The Networks

from Kevin Draper of the New York Times,

It feels as if television networks should be panicking about their ratings for sporting events, pondering existential questions about how viewing habits have changed amid the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. election.

But they’re not — despite some eye-popping numbers and a lot of armchair criticism.

Ratings for the N.B.A. finals were down 49 percent, and the N.H.L.’s Stanley Cup finals were down a whopping 61 percent. Baseball, golf, tennis, horse racing and other sports have all seen huge declines. Even the usually untouchable N.F.L. was down 13 percent through Week 5.

So what is going on here? A lot. Too much, actually, to pinpoint simple answers. Should everyday fans care? Not particularly — and there are good reasons not to overreact.

To decipher all that the ratings are and are not telling us, we need a sharper understanding of the practical functions they serve.


Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink


TreKronor's avatar

I know for me, with the NHL playoffs, I didn’t watch nearly as much as normal for a few reasons:

1) I was in the end-of-summer push to finish my outdoor stuff (projects and whatnot). 

2) The teams in it towards the end really did not grab my attention at all.

3) I think the quality of hockey was okay, but it lacked the major swings of a typical Playoff round because there was no crowd present.  Along those lines, when a team went up 2-0 in a series you could pretty much assume they were going to win it, whereas in a “normal” series the away team may lose the first two games but also had a good chance to go back home and win a couple.  I definitely missed the influence of the arena and fans.

Posted by TreKronor on 10/22/20 at 10:23 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

I watched maybe fifteen minutes total of the Finals this year. I tried watching the playoffs, and did pretty well the first few weeks, but then I just couldn’t pretend I was enjoying it anymore.

The NHL did a great job pulling it off, you couldn’t have asked for much more in these circumstances; but it never felt right to me. It all felt like one, long pre-season.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 10/22/20 at 03:40 PM ET


Nobody wants to pay for cable with streaming services available.  Time for the NHL package to quit blacking our local teams and gain subscription because cable TV is the new VCR

Posted by SevensForTed on 10/22/20 at 05:05 PM ET

Primis's avatar

The NBA, NHL, and MLB that came back were all hollow shells of their former selves and EVERYONE watching could tell.  That combined with the fact that folks went like 6 months with NO sports options at all and thus found other avenues to spend their time, really hurt.


Nobody wants to pay for cable with streaming services available.  Time for the NHL package to quit blacking our local teams and gain subscription because cable TV is the new VCR

Posted by SevensForTed on 10/22/20 at 06:05 PM ET

...you pile THIS on top of the things I mentioned earlier, and you have the recipe for disaster for TV ratings for all the sports.

I’m not ever going to re-sub to traditional cable.  Ever.  It’s not happening ever again.  Ever.

Therefore, the NHL has no way to get my eyeballs as a fan, because they literally provide no other means for me to watch my team.  They’ve backed me into a corner and are trying to force me to do the one thing that is never happening.  One of these stupid sports is going to wake up one day and start realizing that if they remove the archaic local blackout rules they can maybe ACTUALLY grow the game more, because the entire process they’re used to is no longer valid anymore with essentially the death of traditional providers.

Posted by Primis on 10/23/20 at 07:37 AM ET

Paul's avatar

SevensForTed, would you mind updating your email address?

The one you have is getting kicked back to me when people are commenting to this post.


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/23/20 at 07:40 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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