Friday, May 12, 2006

Do You Like To Watch??

Apparently, not everyone does.

The ratings are in from the US-side of the NHL story.....and if it were a horse, it would have been shot a long time ago. Not only did the final numbers come in for the first year of OLN at 0.2 (or 164,000 viewers) on average, but the early returns for the playoffs on NBC is just as pathetic. The Carolina/New Jersey game on Saturday got a 1.1 rating, while the Colorado/Anaheim game on Sunday got a 0.9 rating. To show how bad it is-- these games got beat by taped NCAA Gymnastic and a "shoot your age" golf tournament. Really-- they have those.

Even when ESPN carried the NHL, it wasn't really the biggest draw; but at least the people were able to see it. OLN has been draped in black-outs, contract controversy, and bad production value for it's first season. For one reason or another, and this could come as a shot, many Americans don't like hockey. Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi and Sun Media's Al Strachan have it pretty much down to a "T".

But why though?? USA Hockey has a record number of kids signed up for youth hockey, the talent pool coming out of the US is amazing. Yet, for one reason or another, people can't stand watching it. Is it because of the fact that the rules and everything is too hard to pick-up for casual fans?? Is it because they don't know enough about the game?? Is it because OLN's coverage has been so atrocious that they get motion sickness trying to watch?? For the playoffs, is it because all the big, "sexy" teams like the Red Wings, Flyers, and Rangers are out so early??

We'll just have to wait until it's all said and done before we really start to point fingers at what went wrong with the NHL's TV deals. One interesting point is Kevin Dupont's article about what teams would be good for the NHL's ratings with the "sexy" teams out of it. He does have a point with California being the best for the TV viewing, and with the Ducks through, the Sharks just need to beat Edmonton to assure one California team is in it.

Personally, living in Canada has really gotten me spoiled. There's hockey on almost every night, hockey is always talked about on the sports channels, and it's just a hockey nirvana for me. Living in Maryland, if you didn't have Center Ice, you either had to watch the Red Wings all the time on ESPN or deal with the Caps rebuilding. After a while, you almost get tired of it. That's what could be the problem-- people getting tired of the same old, same old-- while teams with great players aren't getting the TV time they have earned through the season.

It's just me, but if the NHL can't get back on ESPN-- it could be a long, long time before the NHL get the big ratings they want to have.

1 comment:

fastmari said...

If they were giving the hockey-on-air away, there'd still be far less showing up on the pollster's ratings than actually watched it, due to the faulty polling methodology. There is no way to gauge accurately the number of people watching the game on OLN, unless you give a tollfree phone number for everyone watching to call, and hope they do it.

Remember, these are the same polls that showed half of the country supporting GW Bush as president...although they didn't say which country they'd like to see him pres of.

I'd love to watch, that one game that came on regular tv a few weeks ago was so great. We can't afford a year's commitment to cable, just to see a few games during the season, but we did call TWC to check out their deals and they told us that our driveway was too long, in fact, when pressed, we found out that all of our neighbors, for miles, had been refused service by TWC because it would cost too much to ditchwitch further than they allow for. That means that all rural folks have as an access is the mini dish, and that also demands a year's commitment, at around $50 month, and if you bail out before that, they've had you sign an agreement that lets them take your money anyway.
So, between the RBC/Canes mgt doing hiway robbery, and the cable-carriers all making you sign your own name to their robbery, there is only some kind of "sign" in those empty seats at playoffs games down here.
If the Canes were truly in fan-building mode, they would be doing all the freebies, giveaways, rock bottom pricing that every startup business has to do to build a fan base and public notice. Even the franchises, when a new one opens up, they do all the open house parties with give aways, special coupons, etc, to get the local notice they need to build a local customer up. No one tried to build anything up at the RBC, it was just, "We're here now, we're a bigtime NHL team, we cost a lot, but we're worth it, just look at what those Chicago and Washington fans are paying...be nice to us and maybe we'll let you buy tickets from us." All this has fueled the rumors that the first playoff run was a fix, as the NHL wanted to help the RBC get up and running. Since they are still in trouble, and we're in playoffs again, that same rumor has come up again. Canes fans want to believe it's all real, it's all good sportsmanship and true talent and perseverance in those champions and these championships...but without being able to actually afford to SEE the games, it's hard to say it could never be true.

I'd love to send my husband to watch the game in person and I'd love to be able to watch the game on the tv. We listen to the worst radio signal I've ever heard since I was 14 and my first transistor radio would pick up Joey Bishop playing rock n roll,up in Buffalo, NY ("burn, baby, burn!", he'd laugh and I never knew what he meant)since there wasn't much rock n roll in Mid-Massachusetts in 1954 on the air. It should be an American right to be able to watch a hockey game, not some free-enterpriser's right to rip off everyone.
GO CANES, on air, on tv, on ice, wherever, whenever, whoever, whatever !