Will Major League Baseball Go Head-to-Head with the Stanley Cup Final
January 31, 2011 1 Comment
The NHL often gets made fun of by mainstream sports fans and columnists for their miniscule regular season television ratings, but were currently in an era that has seen the Stanley Cup Final pull itself up to ratings respectability, at worst. Besides, hockey’s far from the only sport in ratings trouble. Major League Baseball has seen their ratings fall to a near NHL On NBC level over the past few years, and that’s with FOX airing 3-4 regional telecasts per week vs. NBC’s lone game.
FOX and baseball are trying to combat this by sneaking some juice (not like that) into the once legendary Game of the Week franchise by airing it in primetime a few weeks out of the season. This will happen on FOX May 14, May 21 and May 28. That would be Memorial Day Weekend (also, the weekend of my birthday, shop early!) and typically, in recent years, the weekend that the Stanley Cup Final has begun. Will the two collide?
There are reasons to believe they will and won’t. The last two seasons, NBC has been televising Game 1 of the Final on the Saturday night of Memorial Day Weekend. However, in the first year of that arrangement, they aired games 1 & 2 on back-to-back nights, so it is conceivable that hockey could air games 1 & 2 on the Sunday and Monday nights of Memorial Day Weekend instead of going up against MLB.
Why avoid MLB? Usually I’d say that it is just regular season baseball, that can easily be beaten. Last year’s FOX primetime games drew in the 3-5 million range, which is beatable for the NHL. However, baseball and hockey’s audiences do have some overlap, plus, FOX is loading up on regional games to try and make some ratings headway, by airing a ridiculous six games (Philadelphia/NY Mets, LA Angels/Minnesota, Boston/Detroit, Cincinnati/Atlanta, Kansas City/Texas and St. Louis/Colorado) in different parts of the country in the 7-10PM ET slot.
So, the questions remain, and they’re far off from being answered: Will we see this head-to-head, akin to CBS airing MMA during the Final a few years back? Can the NHL beat out even regular season baseball? I imagine it’ll take awhile to find out, but I don’t know that hockey should necessarily shy away from this, as long as they have another big market Stanley Cup Final.