NHL ratings for 2006 - prediction of doom
Ok, so here's a stunner. ESPN has decided to not renew their NHL broadcast agreement. So that means that the NHL is moving to that long time sports channel, Outdoor Life Network. This couldn't be funnier if you tried.
Everyone knows that the NHL TV ratings have been declining steadily. At one point NHL hockey was being outdrawn by both soccer and poker.
But now, in an effort to get any money they can, the NHL is going with the Outdoor Life Network. Can you even remember the last time you watched the Outdoor Life Network? The only time I've ever watched is during the final few days of the Tour de France.
It's not all bad news for the NHL. Even though the Outdoor Life Network will show between 58-78 regular season games, the playoffs can be moved to NBC. The first two games of the Stanley Cup will be shown on the Outdoor Life Network and the rest of the games will be shown on NBC.
I think this situation was best summed up by George Bodenheimer, the president of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports:
However, given the prolonged work stoppage and the league's TV ratings history, no financial model even remotely supports the contract terms offered. We wish the NHL all the best.
I'll wager that none of the hockey games played in 2006 will garner more than 3 million viewers.