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Friday, April 4, 2008

NBC and the NHL Close In On An Extension

William Houston of the Globe and Mail reports that and the NHL are closing in on an agreement to televise games next season. Houston indicates that a potential point of contention is that the network would rather avoid having to broadcast Stanley Cup Final Games during highly-rated primetime weeknights. "That may be partially achieved by coverage starting on a Friday, with the fourth game on Sunday, followed by a fifth game, if necessary, on a Wednesday, before returning to the weekend for the sixth and seventh, if needed."

I've got to believe that if this goes down, a big incentive to renew on part was the possibility of televising the last event in Yankee Stadium history. If the game does happen, and if they find the Rangers another compelling big market opponent, it could get terrific ratings. You would think it would get substantially higher ratings than the 2.2 it got for the New Years Day Game in Buffalo. The facts seem to back that up as Buffalo and Pittsburgh were the markets in the US which had by far the highest ratings for the event. That indicates, that the event is is driven by the two markets which participate in it.

Also, another possible reason for interest is the realization that though the NHL's current ratings are comparable to poker, arena football, and bowling, the NHL is far more scalable and is the only entity with top flight unrealized potential. Even though ratings have suffered, the fact that small markets have competed in the last two Stanley Cup Finals have seriously affected ratings. Also there is a lack of dominance by the large market teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks and LA Kings. The New York Rangers have done ok, but have hardly performed like an elite team. Should this happen in the future or should the Penguins and Capitals have a lot of success the NHL could garner much bigger ratings in the future. Poker, Arena Football and bowling just don't have that going for them.

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