Introducing Snap Shots from Snap.com!

Hello NHL Business Blog Readers!

In my never ending quest to ensure that you have the best possible experience on my site, I decided to install a nice little tool called Snap Shots. It enhances links with visual previews of the destination sites, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns or anything else you would like to share with me, fire up an email and contact me at: nhlblogger@gmail.com!

Monday, May 19, 2008

NHL PLAYERS THINK ABOUT NEXT LABOUR MOVE

From Reuters:

By Ben Klayman

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - National Hockey League players have the option to reopen the current labor deal with owners a year early, but likely will not make a final decision until the middle of next season, the players' union chief said on Friday.

Three years since NHL teams imposed a salary cap after a bitter labor dispute wiped out the entire 2004-2005 season, the National Hockey League Players Association is weighing the merits and challenges of reopening the deal at the end of next season, NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly told Reuters.

"We're just beginning to have that dialogue with the players," he said at the Sports Lawyers Association's annual conference in San Francisco. "I don't think anyone has a tremendous appetite for serious labor negotiations unless there's a good, solid business reason for it."
While acknowledging the union would love to kill the salary cap, he warned that reopening the deal would also give owners a crack at renegotiating parts of the contract they do not like.
"The players need to understand ... be careful what you wish for; that you could be finding yourself embroiled in a much longer and more difficult discussion," he said.

The union also has the option of extending the deal a year through the 2011-2012 season, Kelly said. The owners do not have similar options.

Kelly said the union will hold player meetings in Colorado Springs, Colorado, next month and in Rome in July to begin talks on contract issues. Those talks will continue during fall tours with each team and by the middle of next season the union will have established its views to make a final decision.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Versus Matches NBC for Record Viewership

The NHL on Versus continued its record breaking romp thorough the post-season as it set an all-time record for viewership for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. The game drew 2.3 million viewers, and got a 1.8 rating. It was the most watched event in terms of viewers in Versus/OLN history and second to the final stage of the 2005 Tour de France in terms of ratings.

The 2.3 million viewers is equal to Game 5 between the Penguins and Rangers which was broadcast on NBC the previous Sunday. That was the most watched non-Stanley Cup Final playoff game in five years.

Versus was again the #1 cable network in terms of total viewers, the 18-34 and 18-49 male demographics during the telecast. It also beat the competing NBA telecast on TNT (Hornets-Spurs) in these metrics. Versus is now averaging a 1.2 for the Conference Finals, which up 50% from the 0.8 it averaged last season.

The fact that Versus continues to set record ratings may be surprising to some but seems fairly predictable when you look at the facts. You have a matchup of the 4th largest US media market with the most exciting, young team in the league, which by the way, is also located in a hockey crazy city. On top of that, unlike in many markets in the US, Versus has excellent penetration in the two cities, with Versus and parent company Comcast being based in Philadelphia. This allowed Versus to draw a 22.3 in Pittsburgh and a 9.4 in Philadelphia, and be the top show on either broadcast or cable in Pittsburgh and #2 in Philadelphia among both broadcast and cable. It is also a reason that Detroit-Dallas didn't draw the same ratings despite having a few hundred thousand more TV households in their markets.

It will be interesting to see if Versus will draw significantly higher for their Stanley Cup Finals games, since I don't believe they have the same type of penetration in Detroit or Dallas as they do in Pennsylvania. I think they will, but I will be curious as to how much.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Worst Pre-Game Intro Ever

I came across this video on Youtube of an Ottawa Senators game in the 1st round this year. This has got to be the worst pre-game introduction ever, not just in the NHL, but all of professional sports. What do you think?

Friday, May 9, 2008

NHL on NBC Gets Best Network Ratings Since 2003

The NHL on NBC finally got its ratings! Game 5 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers was the highest rated NHL broadcast excluding the Winter Classic and Stanley Cup Finals, on any network since May 10, 2003. The telecast drew 2.3 million viewers! On May 10, 2003 the Anaheim Mighty Ducks faced off against the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on ABC, and ended up drawing 2.4 million viewers.

It must've been a real disappointment to the suits at the league office that the series didn't go 7 games. Though I'm not sure that Game 7 would have been on NBC, the ratings would still have been excellent.

I'm a little surprised that a game involving Anaheim and Minnesota would out-rate a New York-Pittsburgh matchup, but it was the Conference Finals and this was only the second round. It also seems as though a lot of fans were waiting till the series progressed and there was the threat of elimination to tune in. Anyways, the news is good for the league, and with three big market hockey teams plus the most exciting marketable team in the league in the Conference Finals, the NHL should re-establish itself as a major league in terms of TV ratings (in the eyes of some mainstream US media) this year.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Project Development Plan Approved for Pittsburgh Arena

The City Planning Commission in Pittsburgh approved the project development plan for the new arena slated to open in Pittsburgh in 2010. Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer was elated telling reporters that “we’re very happy,” after the commission voted unanimously to approve the plan. “There are several stages to building the arena and this, certainly, is a very important one.”

During the presentation, architect Wayne London revealed many renderings of the new arena for the first time.

The Penguins and HOK, (the company designing the arena) still have many hurdles, as they "must meet several conditions set forth by the commission and will work with the City Planning staff to accomplish those."

The project development plan, from what I know, is basically the process of figuring out how you are going to meet your goals and objectives for the project. Basically, how you're going to get the project done, on time and on budget. It's good that they have decided how they are going to approach building this arena, now they will have about 2 1/2 years to make it happen. The renderings look promising, though I don't think the Pittsburgh arena is as nice as the Newark one, which I believe, was also designed by HOK.

The renderings can be seen here: http://penguins.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=MediaGalleryPlayer&galleryId=6283

Monday, May 5, 2008

Don Cherry to Join ESPN

Word out of Toronto is that colorful Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry will join ESPN for the NHL Conference Finals and maybe even the Stanley Cup. NBC brought Cherry in previously during the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals to enlighten the US audience and drive up ratings.

This is a good move by ESPN, but somewhat surprising. I didn't really think they cared about covering hockey this much, especially since they have rights to competing NBA Playoff series'. Don Cherry will do a good job making the broadcasts fun and interesting though he may be a little controversial. That, however, is good in American TV. The NBA, NFL and MLB have thrived with a ton of controversy surrounding their game and in particular, many of their athletes. It gets the game in the papers, internet and other forms of media, generating attention, awareness and interest. Despite "Spygate," the Tim Donaghy scandal and the steroid era, financially and interest-wise, these leagues have never been healthier.

Sports is no longer just about sports these days it's about sports AND entertainment. Don Cherry will deliver that.

Here's a clip of Cherry's stint at NBC last season, enjoy!:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

NHL on Versus Sets Records

They managed to draw 1.2 million people

The NHL on Versus set a record with a 1.0 TV rating during Game 4 between the NY Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. That apparently is their best rating ever. They also managed to draw 1.2 million people which is also a record, along with having the highest viewership among males 18-39 and 18-49 of all cable programs broadcast during that timeslot. They even managed to beat the competing Detroit Pistons - Philadelphia 76ers matchup on TNT in those demographics.

The game drew a 2.1 household rating in the NY market....

The game drew a 2.1 household rating in the NY market and a 15.3 household rating in the Pittsburgh market. That is also a record for NHL on Versus ratings in both markets. On top of all that, the telecast was the highest rated show on cable in New York and the most watched show on TV in the Pittsburgh.

This was a unique broadcast, as Versus had exclusivity.

This was a unique broadcast, as Versus had exclusivity. That means that no other American network (national or regional) could broadcast the game.Versus has exclusivity for their Tuesday regular season matchups (before the Super Bowl, and Monday matchups afterwards), two games per series during the Conference Semi-Finals, the Conference Finals and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. This goes to show you that Versus can draw respectable ratings given the appropriate matchups and exclusivity.

When I first saw this rating, I was stunned and in shock. Not because I didn't think the NHL could draw these numbers, but because of the horrid 1.2 rating they drew on NBC with Game 2 of the series. NBC has exclusivity for every game they broadcast, in the regular season and playoffs. I didn't think there was a hope in hell of them drawing anything close to this number. I expected that they would be in the 0.6-0.7 range. Was the Versus telecast that much better that people started to tune in? Or was it just the possibility of seeing an elimination that got the fans to come out? It just goes to show you, you never know what's going to happen.....Or maybe sports fans are just weird.


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Friday, May 2, 2008

Fabian Brunnstrom Tours NHL Cities

The best player in the world not playing in the NHL, Fabian Brunnstrom, is touring NHL cities in hopes of picking a team to sign with. According to reports, it seems as if he has narrowed his choices to Dallas, Detroit and Montreal. There were a number of teams interested in his services including the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and reportedly another 12 other NHL teams.

The situation has essentially turned into a recruitment process (much like how high school athletes are recruited by colleges) because Brunnstrom can only sign a maximum entry level contract since he has never been drafted into the NHL and is only 23. All he has to do, is pick the team and system which will be the best fit.

If you're asking me, he's wrong to pick those teams. They're all very deep, with an abundance of young talented players. They may be winners, but he may have a hard time cracking the lineup unless he can consistently be a force every night. I haven't heard that much about him, so he may be that type of player. Considering how many teams are interested in him, it may work out. I also wonder whether he and his agent JP Barry will ask the teams to commit to playing him a certain amount of time. I wouldn't make any promises if I was a GM, but when bidding gets this competitive, a player can get things out of management that they normally wouldn't.


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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LA Kings to Hike Ticket Prices Next Season

According to team president "Lucky" Luc Robitaille, the team has lost millions of dollars, even more than it lost before the lockout.

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that season ticket prices will increase 5.66% next season, though many of the cheapest seats will decrease in price by as much as 21%. Prices for individual game tickets for next season have not been announced yet.

This move was predictable and necessary for the team to keep pace with the rest of the league and be able to stay within the salary cap range. According to team president "Lucky" Luc Robitaille, the team has lost millions of dollars, even more than it lost before the lockout. This price hike will help the team hold the line on it's losses, while still keeping LA Kings tickets well below the league average price of $57, at $48.

I have to be honest though, even though I think it's the right move to increase ticket prices,

I disagree with the statement made by their Chief Marketing Officer, Chris McGowan, that it's better to increase prices a bit every year regardless of team performance

, as opposed to a huge price hike after a good year. Fans are often more incensed an grudging to part with their hard earned dollars after years of poor performance, even if it's less money than when the team wins. As you can see, teams who win can coax their fans to pay more money after good years, even if they don't like it. Never do you see a dominant team in a market that has had continuous success play in front of sparse crowds. Either way, this was the right move, as the price hike is not monumental.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

NHL on NBC Ratings Dissapoint This Weekend

The NHL on NBC ratings for this weekend were disappointing. The Detroit Red Wings-Colorado Avalanche game only managed a 1.0 TV rating

The NHL on NBC ratings for this weekend were disappointing. The Detroit Red Wings-Colorado Avalanche game only managed a 1.0 TV rating, which is even with the rating the Red Wings-Sharks series got last year. Apparently the renewal of the old Detroit-Colorado rivalry wasn't enough to convince hockey fans to tune in. Or maybe they saw Game 1. If they did, I don't blame them for not tuning in. You would never know these two teams were once heated rivals by the way they played. There was very little physicality and bad blood between the teams, in fact it was downright boring. Things better pick up when the two teams meet in Colorado, otherwise they may have a hard time convincing fans to tune in.

Even more astonishing is the fact that they couldn't even equal the 1.3 rating the Rangers got playing the small market Sabres last season.

Even more disappointing, was the meager 1.2 rating that the Penguins and Rangers pulled in. Personally, I was astonished that the most famous US team in the NHL and Sidney Crosby and his band of stars were only able to pull in 200,000 more people than the Wings and Avalanche. Even more astonishing is the fact that they couldn't even equal the 1.3 rating the Rangers got playing the small market Sabres last season.

It seems as if the NHL is consistently around a certain TV rating for each round and gets only that rating no matter which teams are playing. They seem to lose enough fans in the markets that are not participating to ensure the ratings stay around that number. The league is going to have to find more ways to build scale and fan loyalty to improve these ratings. The NHL Network and NHL Network Online are good starts, but we'll have to see what they can do in the future.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

HELLO READERS!

Hello to the NHL Business Blog Community!

I have to apologize for not having posted in a few days. I am currently under the weather and feel horribly. As well, I have spent the last little while really thinking about where I want to take this site. I have been so focused on posting everyday, adding new features etc I haven't really had the time to really think about "the big picture." Anyways, I will share all of my insights and plans with all of you shortly. I will be back tomorrow to weigh in on what's going on in the business side of the NHL. What happened in Vancouver, and other more current issues. Thanks so much for all of your patience. I will talk to you soon!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Columbus Blue Jackets Owner John McConnel Dies

Today was a sad day for the NHL as it lost a member in their family, Columbus Blue Jackets owner John H. McConnel died after a long battle with cancer.

Via the Canadian Press:

McConnell brought major professional sports to Columbus when he led a group of investors that acquired an NHL expansion team that began play as the Blue Jackets in 2000.

He called the team his gift to the city.

"Columbus has been good for me. I think this is good for Columbus," McConnell said when Nationwide Arena opened in 2000.

"I just think Columbus is a good sports town. They need athletics."

He was also an early investor in Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew franchise and a former minority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Blue Jackets, now seven years in, are the only NHL franchise that has yet to make the playoffs. It was something McConnell had often said he couldn't wait to see.

"It's been a tough day for everybody here," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said.

McConnell wasn't around the team much toward the end of last season because of his health, but he did attend the Blue Jackets' last game on April 6, Howson said.

"The players liked him," he said. "I think they saw him more as a father figure and a friend rather than an owner. It was a privilege to work for him."

McConnell was born May 10, 1923, in Pughtown, W.Va.

After serving three years with the Navy on the aircraft carrier Saratoga during World War II, he graduated with a degree in business administration from Michigan State in 1949.

In 1954, a steel company put McConnell in Columbus as a salesman. After realizing how much money he was making for his employers, he decided to put a phone in his basement and start his own company.

"My dad said, 'Don't do it,"' McConnell told The Columbus Dispatch for a story in 2000. "He said, 'What happens if you go broke?' I said, 'Well, I don't have anything to start with, so what am I going to lose?"

McConnell started Worthington Industries a year later by borrowing money against his 1952 Oldsmobile. The company now employs about 8,000 people, with 69 facilities in 11 countries.

McConnell's son, John P. McConnell, became chairman and chief executive in 1996 while McConnell became chairman emeritus.

As the NHL looked to expand in the late 1990s, the original owner of the Blue Jackets was supposed to be the late Texas oil magnate Lamar Hunt, who owned the Crew. But Hunt blanched on funding an arena after voters turned down three ballot proposals that would have provided public financing.

McConnell stepped up with a new ownership group while Columbus-based Nationwide Insurance put together a plan to privately finance an arena.

An ugly court fight followed when Hunt alleged he was elbowed out of the ownership group. McConnell, who ended up winning the lawsuit, said he did it as a matter of civic pride. He ended up committing $120 million to building the franchise.

Nationwide Insurance stepped in to construct a 19,500-seat, glass-and-brick arena downtown, with spectacular views of the skyline and a rejuvenated business district.

Unlike many owners, "Mr. Mac" as he was called by his coaches and players, was idolized by fans who filled Nationwide Arena to capacity to watch the Blue Jackets.

On opening night, Oct. 9, 2000, McConnell received a standing ovation that lasted nearly a minute when he slowly moved to centre ice on a blue carpet - ever present cane in hand - to drop the first puck along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The first Blue Jackets team was among the most successful NHL expansion teams in history, winning 28 games and collecting 71 points.

McConnell had made a friendly wager with Bettman that the Blue Jackets would be better than anyone thought - and he won the bet.

"I used to tell them: 'You don't have to win all the games. We know that. As long as you do your best out there, why, we're happy with you.' And that's what they did," McConnell said.

The next year's team, beset by injuries, was a major disappointment. At the team's last home game, McConnell appeared in a video in which he thanked the fans for selling out the entire the season, apologized for the poor record and promised a brighter future.

"You did your job; I'm not sure we did ours," McConnell said. "I guarantee you next year we'll do better. That's a guarantee."

McConnell was also a noted philanthropist. He is the founder of the McConnell Heart Health Center at Riverside Methodist Hospital.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NHL.com Records All-Time Traffic High

NHL.com set an all-time record for traffic since the launch of NHL Network Online. Traffic is almost double what it was before the launch on April 9 as it has increased a reported 75%. The NHL Network Online also drew a whopping 7 million page views in its first week (the week of April 13) alone.

Also, interestingly Alexa.com is reporting that traffic has increased significantly to NHL.com, mostly in the United States. NHL.com currently ranks 640th in the web, with 44.7% of users
coming from the United States, 37.4% coming from Canada
and the rest coming from abroad (mainly Europe). This contrasts with earlier on in the year and past years where Alexa.com reported that the majority of traffic came from Canada. This may be due to the launch of NHL Network Online, but this may also be due to the changed rankings system used at Alexa. In the past they used to rank sites based on visits from users who had installed the Alexa Toolbar on their browsers. Now they compile rankings based on data from a number of sources. They're not revealing which sources or how they do it but that's what they say.

Also, another reason why traffic may have spiked, is the presence of many big market US hockey teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. NHL fans usually tune out the playoffs unless their teams are involved. NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Business and Media, (and former Cleveland Browns President) John Collins recently said that 80% of fan viewership is determined by whether their teams are in the postseason, and that 50% of the NHL's most avid fans will not watch the Stanley Cup Finals, unless their team is involved. With the Rangers, Flyers, Red Wings, Penguins, Stars and Sharks still involved, this has probably driven a ton of fan interest, that probably spilled over to NHL.com.

NHL Network Online is a cutting edge portal that features archived game highlights from the Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as podcasts, live coverage of league events such as the amateur draft, behind-the-scenes features, and links to XM Radio's NHL Live show. It replaced NHL TV as the main portal for NHL.com.

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NHL on NBC Extended For Another Season

NBC has reportedly renewed their contract with the NHL for the 2008-09 season. Dick Ebersol, Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics said in a statement: “Ratings were up this year; the Winter Classic in Buffalo was a huge success; advertising sales were healthy; and the product on the ice has never been better, led by young, marketable stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.”

Not only did NBC's ratings rise 11% this year to a 1.0, but it got a boost in a key demographic, as viewership in the male 18-49 category jumped 33%. To keep things in perspective, it must be noted that these numbers include the Winter Classic ratings.

This deal makes sense for both sides, NBC gets another Winter Classic game, the NHL gets to stay on network television. Also, even though ratings haven't been great, the NHL is able to draw high-end, affluent consumers to NBC. This no doubt helps NBC get healthy revenues for ad sales. Plus, there is always the promise of the NHL breaking out and finally getting the viewership it needs, especially if large market teams like the Rangers do consistently well.

Despite the fact that many people want to see the league ditch NBC to go to ESPN, having a presence on network television is far more important. NBC is available to everyone, ESPN is not. Despite the fact that ESPN is in some 110 million homes, TV ratings are consistently higher on network television for all sports. Plus, the NHL may be able to command a healthy rights fee after next season, especially if two large market American teams make the Stanley Cup Finals.

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Another Local TV Record for the Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals have set another all-time record for local TV viewership during Game 6 of their first round series with the Philadelphia Flyers. The game received a 3.8 household rating in the D.C. market, along with a 4.5/12 (rating/share) with men 18-49 years of age, and a 4.2/10 with men 25-54 years of age. The game also got a 2.6/7 in the total 18-49 demographic.

For those who are unfamiliar, a rating is a percentage of households with TV sets who are tuned into a certain program in a specific market. A share is the percentage of households who are using their televisions who are tuned into a certain program in a specific market. (i.e. Rating = number of households watching the program/number of households with TV sets, Share= number of households watching the program/number of households who are watching TV during the same time)

While it's predictable that the ratings would be huge, I'm actually pretty shocked that the Capitals didn't draw higher ratings in their Stanley Cup year of 1998. Also, the Caps have been to the playoffs 18 times before this season, I'm surprised they didn't draw ratings like this before. The fact that they were able to smash the record in the first round may indicate that hockey is on it's way up in Washington D.C.

P.S. Expect another record for Game 7, it's in their home building and ratings always improve as series's move along.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tampa Bay Lightning Sale to Proceed; Can Koules Avoid Bankruptcy?

It seems as if the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to Hollywood mogul Oren Koules and OK Hockey will be completed after all. The sale was in jeopardy when French bank Societe Generale who agreed to lend to Koules was rocked by the largest trading scandal and fraud in bank history. According to reports they lost 7.2 billion dollars when a single trader, Jerome Kerviel orchestrated a series of transactions that spiraled out of control as the world financial markets became exposed to the US sub-prime credit mess.

Koules then could not get another bank to finance him, as lending standards and credit markets tightened in response to the bursting of the sub-prime mortgage bubble. In response to this, current Tampa Bay Lightning owner Palace Sports and Entertainment has agreed to finance Koules, until the credit markets loosen up and he can get another bank to finance him. Apparently they will provide him with as much as half of the purchase price of $200 million. Should Koules and his partners get in over their heads, Palace Sports and Entertainment will foreclose on the loan and re-take the team. After the paperwork is completed later this week, the last hurdle for the deal to go through is league approval.

This deal looks fishy to me. The fact that Koules and his partners needs to finance up to $100 million is a huge red flag. It's obvious that he doesn't have the assets to afford to buy the team. Sports is not a great business, it requires ever increasing amounts of capital to be re-invested, usually in players, but every ten years or so in the arena and ten years later in a new building. People usually don't make huge amounts of money running a sports franchise. On top of that, the Lightning have had problems for a long time, not with their revenues, but with their profitability. They have reportedly lost $76 million since 1999 and have never had a year in the black, save for their Stanley Cup winning season. This, despite sellout crowds and strong fan support for many years, not to mention the fact that "the city and county picked up millions over those years for the team in ancillary charges such as property taxes and parking revenue shortfalls." Koules and his partners will have a hard time breaking even, let alone making enough for them to repay the loan.

It seems that what Koules and his partners are banking on is the 5 1/2 acres of land they're acquiring along with the team. In February, The Globe and Mail ran a story suggesting that former NHL player and current property developer Len Barrie was poised to become a significant investor in the team. The report suggested that he had participated in discussions with other Lightning executives on the direction of the franchise, and was part of Koules's first attempt to buy the Lightning with Absolute Hockey Enterprises. Barrie for his part, denied being part of the first group. I don't know whether that story was a case of fanciful journalism, putting two and two together, but it makes a lot of sense. The only hope they have of making any money is to develop that property with the way the Lightning are bleeding cash. Also the fact is it will probably only get worse, as the team's attendance may decrease and ticket prices may have to go down due to their last place finish this year. However, unless they create Disneyland 2.0 or the next Augusta National golf course, it's highly unlikely they will make enough to repay their loan.

Should this happen, Koules may suffer the same fate as another mega-debtor, Rod Bryden did in Ottawa, bankruptcy. If this happens, unless there is a benevolent Tampa billionaire willing to buy the team simply to keep it there, the team will likely have to end up moving.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

NHL on NBC Playoff Ratings Up Big Time; Flyers and Capitals Draw Record Ratings

NBC registered huge increases in playoff ratings this weekend according to Sports Business Daily via SportsMediaWatch as "Game Five of the Washington Capitals-Philadelphia Flyers series drew a 1.2 overnight rating up 33% from a 0.9 for Flames/Red Wings Game 5 last year and Game Six of the Detroit Red Wings-Nashville Predators series drew a 1.3 up 18% from a 1.1 for Devils/Lightning Game 6 last year. The 1.3 overnight is the second-highest of the season for the NHL on NBC, behind only the 2.6 for the Winter Classic in January."

I'm quite surprised that the Capitals-Flyers series didn't draw more viewers, conversely I'm astonished that the Red Wings-Predators series drew so well. I thought they'd have a hard time breaking a 1.0. There are two possible reasons for this, there were a lot of Red Wings fans nationally who didn't tune in last year for the series vs. the Flames, that did this year, or there are more Predators fans in the US than I thought.

The Caps-Flyers series should have creamed the Red Wings-Predators series though. Philadelphia is a hockey crazy city where only the Eagles are really in the same league as the Flyers. Washington isn't the craziest hockey town, but it is a big market which is supporting the Capitals very well this season. Their combined market population (metropolitan area population) is 11.1 million people compared to approximately 6 million combined market population of Detroit and Nashville metropolitan areas. Philadelphia is the nation's fourth largest media market, Washington is ninth, Detroit is eleventh and Nashville is 30th.

To add to the surprise, this series is setting record numbers in terms of viewers in both local markets. According to TVbythenumbers.com, Game Four set an all-time record in viewership for a Washington Capitals game drawing a 3.3 rating locally. Game Three gave the Philadelphia Flyers their highest rated game in two years, drawing a 5.4 rating locally.

I guess there are just a lot more Red Wings fans outside of the Detroit Market, and not as many Flyers fans as I thought.

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Tim Russert is a hockey fan?

And finally from guess where..... Eric McErlain from AOL Fanhouse, Tim Russert is a hockey fan! I sometimes (very rarely) catch his program Meet the Press. Apparently he often asks his panelists about the Buffalo Sabres. I had no idea! Here, a few days away from the Pennsylvania Primary, with his beloved Sabres out, Russert breaks out the hometown colours:

Networks Should Televise Events in their Entirety... No Matter How Many Eyeballs Are Watching

Also from Eric McErlain of the AOL Fanhouse, the NHL apparently dodged a bullet today as the program on NBC before Game 6 of the Detroit Red Wings-Nashville Predators series, the Outback Steakhouse Pro Am Golf tournament, nearly went to a playoff, thanks to Scott Hoch. This potential episode brought back memories of the Eastern Conference Finals last year, between the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators, when NBC switched to the race track, to air pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes. This time, NBC said it would switch the golf tournament to the Golf Channel and air the game. However, that was unnecessary, as Scott Hoch missed a put from 2.5 feet to lose the tourney.

Personally, had NBC decided to not air the beginning of the Red Wings-Predators game, I don't think it would have been as embarrassing as last years fiasco. When a network is televising an event, it makes an implicit promise to show the event in its entirety. If people didn't expect to be shown the whole event, how many people would tune in? Especially if the ending isn't shown, that's the most important part! People may be able to live with missing some of the start of an event, but to not finish an event, especially an event as important as the Stanley Cup playoffs, after building up to it is just plain cruel. Rarely will I ever say that something is beyond ratings, profits, or the bottom line, but this is. No matter how small the event or how few people are interested in watching, it should go on till the end. Not everyone subscribes to the Golf Channel or USA network. They shouldn't be cheated! That's why I could live with missing the start of the Red Wings-Predators game. It would be the right thing to do, just as showing the Buffalo-Ottawa game in it's entirety would have been the right thing to do.

Your thoughts?

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

NHL Should Find Ways to Encourage Video Responses to Increase Interest (ie Response to Darryl Parks Video)

You got to give this guy credit, whether you agree with him or not (is there anyone out there? lol). This is extremely innovative (who ever thought they would see something like this? I sure didn't) and shows us the power of Web 2.0, as some people like to call it. The NHL ought to find ways to encourage this. It allows fans a way to directly interact with their teams and the league. They can let the league know what they like and dislike (player moves, hirings and firings etc.) and whatever else is on their minds. NBA on TNT will sometimes take video responses to questions on Youtube and air them for their NBA games. Versus and NBC ought to think about this. They need all the help they can get (Versus especially) to get TV ratings, if fans thought their responses would be aired on National TV, thats a pretty strong incentive to tune in. Also, if the responses are fun and interesting, and get a reputation for providing good entertainment, then another incentive is created for regular folks to tune in as well. I don't know if the Vancouver Canucks hockey team agree with Darryl Parks but I give him credit for his creativity.

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