Monday, June 24, 2024

What is causing the significant decrease in NHL viewership in the United States?

“Diving into the Decline: Reasons Behind the NHL’s 22% Drop in U.S. Ratings”

The NHL’s national television ratings in the United States have taken a significant hit this season, with a 22% drop in viewership compared to the previous year, according to a new report from the Sports Business Journal. This decline comes despite the league being in just the second year of a new seven-year media rights deal with ESPN and TNT.

One of the contributing factors to the decrease in viewership is the expanded number of NHL games broadcasted nationally on both networks. ESPN and TNT doubled the number of games shown from 27 to 54, leading to a drop in average viewership as these additional games may have spread viewership thin.

Additionally, media blackouts in key regions for TNT and Sunday competition with the NFL for ESPN have also played a role in the decreased ratings. The absence of these blackout restrictions and weekend NFL games at this point last year skews the year-over-year comparison, highlighting the impact of scheduling conflicts on viewership.

Despite the decline in TV ratings, ESPN’s partnership with the NHL has shown positive signs of growth in other areas. Online and app engagement with the NHL has increased, as well as social media engagement which has seen a staggering 224% rise compared to last year. This increase is likely due to fan voting through social media platforms, allowing fans to have a more active role in the league’s events.

The drop in ratings could also be attributed to the struggles of big-market teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins this season. Furthermore, the fragmentation of the NHL’s product across different platforms, including regional sports networks and exclusive games on ESPN+, may have made it challenging for fans to access and follow their favorite teams.

Fans on social media have shared their own theories and suggestions to improve viewership, with some proposing ideas like making the sport more accessible with no blackouts, removing digital ads, and allowing players to show more personality on and off the ice.

As the NHL looks to address these challenges and find ways to rebound in TV ratings, the league may need to consider adjusting its approach to appeal to a wider audience and keep fans engaged throughout the season.

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