Do You Care if The NHL All-Star Game is on Broadcast TV?
January 24, 2009 5 Comments
Before we begin this, let’s start off with a year-by-year All-Star ratings look:
1991, Chicago (NBC, Afternoon): 2.7
1992, Philadelphia (NBC, Afternoon): 2.3
1993, Montreal (NBC, Afternoon): 2.4
1994, New York (NBC, Afternoon): 2.5
1996, Boston (FOX, Primetime): 4.1
1997, San Jose (FOX, Primetime): 2.8
1998, Vancouver (FOX, Afternoon): 2.7
1999, Tampa Bay (FOX, Afternoon): 2.2
2000, Toronto (ABC, Afternoon): 2.7
2001, Denver (ABC, Afternoon): 1.7
2002, Los Angeles (ABC, Afternoon): 1.8
2003, Sunrise (ABC, Afternoon): 1.7
2004, Minnesota (ABC, Afternoon): 1.8
2007, Dallas (VERSUS, Primetime): 0.5
2008, Atlanta (VERSUS, Primetime): 0.7
This would be a weird chart graph if I ever attempted to make it. It’d go from the highest rated hockey game of the 90′s (The 1996 All-Star Game) to the lowest rated All-Star game, perhaps ever (2007). The point is that it seems around 2001, people really stopped caring about the All-Star Game. Many of the All-Star Games in the 90′s drew Winter Classic-level ratings. It was clear then that the game was the one chance to see all of the NHL’s stars look awesome.
So, what the hell happened?
We can easily blame the the 2001 and 2002 games on people tiring of the World/North America format. But why didn’t going back to East/West make things fresh again? Why did people stop caring long before the game was dumped from broadcast TV to VERSUS? Does it really matter?
Well, I won’t turn this into an ” is the All-Star Game a waste of time” diatribe. But I do care about the TV aspects. In an age where the NBA All-Star Game is thriving on cable, and the Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star Game are sagging on broadcast, should the NHL lobby to get it’s All-Star Game back on the networks, or try to build into a destination for VERSUS?
Now, to VERSUS’ credit, they are trying to build it’s programming slate with a campaign centered around the NHL All-Star Game (more on this later today). They have to be happy themselves with the ratings of their first two games, which out-drew all but two of VERSUS previous regular season NHL telecasts (Both this year and both featured Detroit). With the game in Montreal this year, the ratings will likely grow to an 0.8 or 0.9, or they could stay where they are due to the lack of Sidney Crosby.
But the NHL has another couple years to reevaluate the All-Star Game as an event. Hell, they haven’t even announced a host for 2011. We usually know where the ASG two years from now is being held. If it isn’t announced this weekend, then you know that the game is in serious duress and a candidate to be replaced. However, if ratings crack 1 million viewers on VERSUS, you bet your ass the NHL thinks there’s growth potential for the game on the network.
Still though, this is the NHL’s showcase event for it’s all-stars, or at least it used to be. On a weekend where there is really nothing else airing on NBC (or any other broadcast network) the league should really have done all it could to get the Peacock network to air the game. Let VERSUS keep the skills show and possibly give them a Legends game (If they’ll air it, who knows). But the NHL, out of all the major leauges, needs another showcase most. It needs to be able to get to everyone.