Gary Bettman gets terrible news as new NHL numbers are released

Published February 1, 2023 at 11:47

Gary Bettman has spent the last couple years preaching about the growth of the game, unfortunately the release of information today, might prove that to be untrue. NHL viewership has taken a hit as the numbers come in. Viewership on ESPN and TNT has dropped 22% heading into the All-Star break. The main reason for such a big drop is that both cable nets have doubled the number of games that they have carried compared to last season, from 27 to 54. Bigger schedules of games typically hurt average viewership.

However, ESPN, TNT and the league cannot be happy with audience numbers so far this season, which is the second one of the blockbuster media deal signed in 2021. Games have averaged 373,000 viewers on ESPN and TNT so far, down from an average of 478,000 viewers at the same point last season. That does not include the Blues-Blackhawks Black Friday game on ABC in 2021; if that number was included, the league average would have been 505,000 viewers last season.

TNT Blackouts have really played an impact. TNT has averaged 359,000 viewers over 36 games, down 16% compared to the 20 games it carried during the same period last season. One reason for the drop is local blackouts impacted at least seven telecasts in big markets like Boston, Pittsburgh and N.Y. this season. Last season, it had no blackouts.

On ESPN, 18 games to date have averaged 402,000 viewers, down 35% from 622,000 over just seven games on the cable network at the same point last year. That comparison includes six games on Sunday this season (up against the NFL), as well as a big opening night in 2021. There were no weekend games at this point last season. ESPN's 12 non-Sunday NHL games are averaging 491,000 viewers, which would be on pace to beat last year's average. Total minutes for the NHL on and the ESPN app are up 29% year-over-year, with page views up 38%. ESPN's social media engagements around the NHL are up 224% year-over-year.

This isn't the greatest sign for the growth of the game. As a fan it is the local blackouts that drive me crazy. With the way the economy is, not as many people can afford to splurge on the yearly Sports Now subscription. Living in the digital age attentions spans are at an all-time low, many choose the option of watching the highlights on Youtube after the game instead of committing the 2-3 hours to watch the full game.
February 1   |   177 answers
Gary Bettman gets terrible news as new NHL numbers are released

Are you worried about the growth of the game of hockey?

Yes, in a few years Canada won't be the top2614.7 %
No, game is getting viewed in other ways5832.8 %
Yes, it is so expensive to keep up9352.5 %
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