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Watching The Sports Channels

from Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily,

ESPN averaged 1.3 million viewers in primetime during Q2, down 32% from the same period last year and the lowest primetime audience for the net in at least seven years. The 32% drop was the biggest decline among cable sports networks. ESPN was no doubt hurt by a sharp drop for its NBA Playoff coverage. The net’s 17 postseason telecasts averaged 4.0 million viewers, down 36% from 6.2 million viewers last year. ESPN was the beneficiary of a seven-game Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals in ’12, whereas the net aired the Spurs sweep of the Grizzlies in the ’13 Western Conference Finals. Other cable sports nets seeing sharp Q2 drops in primetime viewership were ESPN2 (-12%) and NBA TV (-12%). Meanwhile, MLB Network saw a 20% primetime jump during Q2. The net averaged 232,000 viewers for its live games during the first half of the season, up 8% from the same period in ’12. NBC Sports Network also saw a 17% primetime jump, fueled by record-setting NHL postseason viewership, which also was up 17% from last season.


Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nbc+sports+network



couldn’t be happier reading this.  I won’t allow ESPN on at my house under any circumstance.  If they think they don’t need hockey then I don’t need them.  I hope they keep going under. F*** them.

Posted by tbassett on 07/09/13 at 01:00 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Heh.  And Fox Sports will be launching its own sports network real soon.

Fuch the NBA.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 07/09/13 at 01:02 PM ET

Primis's avatar

ESPN’s sloowwwly losing their stranglehold.  That’s a good thing for sports in general.  NBC Sports has absolutely carved out their place in the landscape by now, love them or hate them.  They’re not going away, and they’re a lot of what’s stealing ESPN’s share.

Fox Sports 1… I dunno’.  Fox fails so miserably at all its attempts at national shows on FSN that I have to openly question how FS1 can be any different.  Not that there’s not room.  Canada has what, 3 national sports networks still?

Posted by Primis on 07/09/13 at 01:35 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I only ever watch ESPN if:

1.  There’s a NFL game on

2.  A college football game on

3.  That college football saturday re-cap show is on

4.  The NFL Draft is on

5.  I am at a hotel.  (I am rarely at a hotel)

Other than that, I never watch it.  Sportscenter is insufferable.  They don’t cover the NHL.  Sure, they cover the NFL but they tend to focus on stories that I have zero interest in (see, e.g., Tebow, Tim).  Their other shows are just loud, annoying people being loud and annoying.

If I want hockey news, I’ll watch the NHL Network or NBC Sports.  If I want NFL news, I will watch the NFL Network.

Same goes for radio.  I recently got Sirius/XM.  I have NFL Radio, NHL Radio and ESPN Radio all pre-programed.  I have never listened to ESPN Radio.

I hope that this decline in ratings leads to some changes in the network.  I used to enjoy it.

Posted by Ajax19 on 07/09/13 at 01:47 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I can’t believe that the replay of the 2002 World’s Strongest Man Contest, or the National Cheerleading Semi-Finals doesn’t draw better numbers.  Good thing they still have the World Series of Poker to keep them afloat.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 07/09/13 at 02:19 PM ET

awould's avatar

A good friend of mine works at ESPN. He’s also a hockey fan and has been in my fantasy league for over a decade. We debated the NHL TV issue last summer. He said, basically, that the NHL is a joke from a TV-business standpoint and the NBC Sports Channel was roundly mocked in their offices for overpaying for the NHL rights.

I told him I thought that ESPN screwed up by letting NBC get a major sport as it gives them a foothold. I agree the NHL will never be THE major sport in this country, but that their numbers would probably improve if they were marketed properly. That ESPN could have helped expand the league just by covering it. That down the road, NBC would take a bite out of their business and everyone would point to the NHL as the catalyst for that channel gaining a larger reach.

At any rate, ESPN as a network is full of hubris and I hope it bites them in the ass. The only time I ever watch it is for college football.

Posted by awould on 07/09/13 at 03:11 PM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

Not too long ago, ESPN used to be it, but a lot of other options are catching up.  It also doesn’t help them that the NBA has been almost un-watchable the last few years.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 07/09/13 at 03:37 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/09/13 at 04:55 PM ET

No one is comparing NBCSN’s numbers with the NHL against ESPN’s with the NFL and college football.

ESPN kicked the NHL to the curb, and hedged its bet on the NBA for Q2, believing the NBA would outdraw the NHL.

As the ratings show, ESPN lost its bet, at least for the time being.

We all know Bettman is a little weasel, but I sure would love to have him run into an ESPN exec somewhere at a restaurant in New York and offer to buy him or her a beer.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 07/09/13 at 06:32 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Comparing Q2 to any other quarter is not the issue here. ESPN knew very well what competition it had in Q2, (hint: it wasn’t bass fishing or log rolling), and it chose basketball. And in that sense, it chose wrong, at least for now.

Don’t let your hate for Bettman cloud bright news about the NHL.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 07/09/13 at 10:16 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

FS/1 will be there for the Pac12 and the Big12 College Football games (and college basketball/other college sports) as Fox has some contracts with them, probably some soccer and I’m going to guess NASCAR related items as well since they’re replacing SPEED with FS/1. I, like Primis above, only watch ESPN for football, Baseball Tonight (don’t like the MLB network one) and soccer. NBC Sports will be making a huge splash come August when it starts broadcasting the EPL. It already has half of the MLS national contract (with ESPN the other half), took a bunch of the IRL schedule, F/1, and I wouldn’t be shocked to seem them make a bid for the TNT Summer Series for NASCAR when that contract is up, giving them a bridge from the SCF to CFB. Also, the Olympics will elevate them even more next year.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 07/10/13 at 09:27 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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