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Reports Are That The NHL's TV Ratings Are WAY Down This Year

This is probably the least surprising news to hit the twitter app today. Less surprising than Tom Brady retiring. The NHL is down has long had a visibility and a marketing problem. That is a problem that has been going for as long as I can remember. I think there was hope and belief that being with the Worldwide Leader would provide more eyeballs, but that doesn't seem to be the case at all. 

From my perspective, ESPN has not been a good partner for the NHL's national audience. The big games aren't pushed on the masses and they aren't marketed. Then, if you do happen to tune in, you're met with a broadcast that would rival that of your local public access station covering HS girls basketball. TNT has been much better, but hockey is hardly it's most important product.

The league doesn't market stars well, they don't foster any storylines. There is no "this league" drama with the NHL. There aren't even any rivalries burning hot right now. 

Hockey has its most prestigious record on the verge of being broken and it has the single most talented player in the history of the sport at the absolute peak of his powers, and the NHL still can't figure out how to get more eyeballs on the sport. 

The best thing about the relationship with ESPN is the streaming of every out of market game in the US through ESPN+/Hulu. I know the national broadcasts are down, but I would be interested to see if viewership overall is still a net positive. People aren't watching the national TV games because they only care about their team OR they're scrolling espn+ looking for what they deem a more compelling matchup. 

Even if the previous paragraph were true and was a big factor...that doesn't make up for the other problems. I think the league has many. I do think they should have one day a week, maybe Mondays after football season, that has only one game. Hockey night in America every night. I think the NHL needs more exciting plays. I think the NHL shouldn't deter fighting the way they do. I think the NHL has over-expanded WAY too much. Vegas and Seattle both seem like they'll be successful experiments, but I don't think expansion is a good idea when you have another franchise that has been bankrupt for basically two decades playing a 5000 seat college rink. 

The league has become watered down. That, to me, is the biggest problem. The hockey isn't as good across the board as it was 7-10 years ago. There's no team that, even me as a diehard hockey fan, I am going out of my way to watch at this point. Boston is clearly the best team in the league right now, but they aren't exactly sexy either. The NHL needs to figure out a way to manufacture hate and genuine rivalries since they largely legislated fighting out of the game. There needs to be more reasons to watch, more things to care about, more reasons to tweet, more reasons to get out of your seat. The league feels stale this year. 

PS: If Bettman gives Bedard to any of the bottom feeders besides Chicago he should be fired. I don't care how good he is, nobody is going out of their way to watch Bedard play for Columbus or Anaheim. Bank of the strong markets to carry the league.