The NHL’s local TV story took a hit this season, as regular-season games on U.S. RSNs posted a 23% ratings drop compared to last year’s shortened season, according to Nielsen data analyzed by my SBJ colleague David Broughton.
The main reason for such an extensive drop — only four teams showed ratings increases — is due to the length of the season. Because of the COVID pandemic, last year’s NHL season started in the middle of January and was only 56 games long.
So there’s a caveat with the above, but the objectively good news is that American numbers were positive in year number one of the ABC, ESPN, and TNT deal. Viewership was up about 18% from the final NBC season, and according to Ourand, “the average of 460,000 viewers per game was the league’s highest mark since 2016-17.”
At the risk of burying the lede, Flyers ratings were exactly what you’d think they were. Way down. Down 39% from last year.
The amazing thing though is that despite the huge drop, they continue to be a top 10 local television team (among the American franchises), with the data showing that they still pulled a 1.54 averaging rating. That placed them 9th in the NHL, right between the Blue Jackets and Lightning. The Posidelphia take is that fans continue to support the team even while they struggle and the Negadelphia/snarky take probably talks about how “Stepford fans” can’t help themselves even when the on-ice product is shite. You can decide what side to choose, and if choose not to decide, you still have made a choice, as Geddy Lee once said.
For some added context, the disgusting Pittsburgh Penguins led the NHL with a 5.3 number despite a 30% local drop. The Coyotes, Ducks, and Devils all pulled numbers of 0.20 or less, which is basically nothing. Might as well be hash marks in the Nielsen book. Seinfeld reruns do better than some of these teams do. Hell, you could pull the NBC Sports Philadelphia infomercial for the Ninja blender and put it in the same time slot as Coyotes hockey and the Ninja would come out on top. Slice and dice baby.