Because We Ran Out of Material…

Check out Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson from the film “Tooth Fairy” at the NHL Store today at 5PM.

I got nothin’ else for today.

Reasons to Not Worry as Much About NBC’s Ratings

Nobody’s really all that worried about the NHL On NBC’s ratings, it seems.  It didn’t make too many headlines, not all that many people linked to it when it got announced.  There are more important things to worry about in the world, and there are more important things to worry about in the hockey world.  There are more important things to worry about in the Puck the Media world.  You get the point.

But there are some things to look at it positively.  For example, two popular college basketball draws on CBS both drew lower ratings than NBC’s hockey coverage, as Sports Media Watch reports:

Saturday’s Illinois/Michigan St. game, which aired opposite the Cardinals/Saints Divisional Round game, drew a 0.5 overnight rating on CBS Saturday — down 64% from Kansas/Michigan St. on NFL Divisional Weekend last year (1.4).

Keep in mind that last year’s Kansas/Michigan St. game aired earlier in the day (1 PM ET), avoiding direct competition from the NFL.

On Sunday, Connecticut/Michigan drew a slightly higher 0.6 overnight, actually up 20% from a 0.5 for Wisconsin/Purdue last year.

Both college basketball games on CBS drew lower overnight ratings than the NHL on NBC (0.8).

So, you know, some good news.  However, figure skating coverage at 4PM on Sunday on the same network drew a 1.8, right up in the thick of football.  Different audiences, perhaps, but the NHL and NBC should wait a little while to judge how much interest is left in their hockey coverage.  Particularly, keep an eye out on the Detroit-Pittsburgh game in between the weeks of the Conference Championships and Super Bowl, and all of the games after the Olympics.

PTM Interview: Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater has been a bit of a lightning rod for controversial stuff in this age of the blogosphere, and let’s not go without saying that I personally enjoy every minute of it.  The man speaks from his heart, something too many of us fail to do (though not too many people in the blogosphere, as Adrian’s often at odds with many of us).  Anyway, he’s a solid guy by my judgement and we decided to pick his brain for an interview this afternoon.

Puck the Media: How do you feel the NHL is doing overall, as a league, as we head full force into 2010?

Adrian Dater: Hmm,a good question to get me in trouble with a lot of people right off the bat. Good job Steve!  Honestly? I don’t think i’ts been a great year for the NHL so far.  That could change in the second half, with some great playoff battles,etc. But it was a big disappointment when the Winter Classic did a lesser rating this year than last year, first off. That wasn’t good, no matter how you spin it. A hockey game at Fenway Park, with Bobby Orr on the ice before the game and James Taylor singing the anthem?  That should have been an extra ratings point over last year, at minimum. I don’t base the value of a sport on the “TV ratings game.”  If that were the barometer, the NBA would be rightly seen as a huge disappointment. Ratings and attendance at NBA games are pretty much adisaster around the league now. But the NHL is – and probably always will be, in the U.S. at least – worse in comparison.

Overall, I just think something is a little off right now with the NHL. I’m not sure what it is either. The players almost certainly have never been better, but that may be part of the problem; there just doesn’t seem to be a big separation between the offensive stars and even the fifth sixth D-men on teams now. The defensemen are just SO much better than the old days. You can’t embarrass any of them anymore like you could in the old days. I mean, it used to be that Bobby Orr could go wide on five of the six D-men on any team, with no problem.  Now, the only way you can beat a D-man clean off the rush is if they fall down. In that sense, the overall excellence of every player on the ice has made it still a little too much like soccer on ice at times – and we haven’t even talked about the quality of the goalies yet, which is infinitely better than the past.

Some of the NHL’s other problems aren’t quite its fault exactly. The cutbacks in media (newspapers especially) have hurt the league in the last few years. The New York Times doesn’t even travel with the Rangers or any other New York-based team anymore, for instance. The Arizona Republic doesn’t travel with the Coyotes, and they’ve been a big success story this year. The Los Angeles Kings has – until the L.A. Times began covering them a little more regularly lately – been reducted to covering themselves on their website. No offense to the Kings or any other team that does that, but no real serious fan of a team is going to be satisfied with that. As much as teams say they will cover themselves with “pure impartiality”, I can’t wait to see what happens when one of those teams has a player get in trouble with the law or a G.M. gets fired for some scandalous reason. Yeah, I’m sure we’ll see it covered exhaustively on the team website. Dump on newspapers all you want, but if a paper doesn’t cover a team in any level of any sport, you watch what happens to the popularity of that team in any given market. It does down. You certainly don’t get any quality coverage from local TV or radio anymore, and the big sports networks in the U.S. still consider the NHL only a niche sport not worth giving any significant coverage toward. So, it’s a vicious circle the sport continues to be entrapped in this country.

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