NHL Playoffs TV Ratings Will Take Bigger Hit Than Expected

NHL Playoffs TV Ratings Will Plunge in April

It’s no secret, Canadian teams are struggling in 2015-16. At this point, the country will be lucky to have one team, if not shutout completely. NHL Playoffs TV ratings will largely be effected by this.

Canadian Teams NHL Standings:

Montreal Canadiens (5th in Atlantic Division) 27-26-4 (58 points)
Ottawa Senators (6th in Atlantic Division) 25-26-6 (56 points)
Vancouver Canucks (5th in Pacific Division) 22-22-12 (56 points)
Winnipeg Jets (7th in Central Division) 25-27-3 (53 points)
Calgary Flames (6th in Pacific Division) 25-27-3 (53 points)
Edmonton Oilers (7th in Pacific Division) 22-29-6 (50 points)
Toronto Maple Leafs (8th in Atlantic Division) 20-26-9 (49 points)

There are currently zero Canadian teams occupying a wild-card position

via Yahoo’s “Eh Game”,

“And if you don’t believe that, just look at what happened last season. When Canadian teams (NHL) were still playing, games involving those teams averaged more than 3 million viewers. Once the last Canadian team was eliminated, ratings dropped and ended up 20 per cent lower than the previous season.”

NHL Playoffs TV Ratings: Canadian Viewers in Past Years (via wikipedia)

2011 – Game 7 was second most-watched CBC Sports program, drawing an average of 8.76 million viewers and trailing only the men’s gold medal game in ice hockey at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
2010 – Game 1 was viewed by 3.164 million people on CBC. Game 6 was the most-watched All-American Stanley Cup Final game, with 4.077 million viewers. The Final averaged 3.107 million viewers, up 44 percent from 2009.
2009 – Game 7 drew an average of 3.529 million viewers to the CBC. However, it averaged 2.154 million viewers for the seven-game rematch, down 7% from the 2008 final.
1994 – With an average Canadian audience of 4.957 million viewers, Game 7 was the most watched CBC Sports program until the 10.6 million viewers for the men’s ice hockey gold medal game between Canada and the United States at the 2002 Winter Olympics, when Canada won its first Olympic ice hockey gold medal since the 1952 Winter Olympics.

Many in the hockey world have written similar pieces outlining the past impact of few Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs.

There’s one major factor that many haven’t considered though: Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays

The MLB season starts in April, and the Toronto Blue Jays captured the hearts of Canadians from coast-to-coast. When we hit October in Canada, the NHL tends to dominate the national sports networks. That wasn’t the case this past October. Whether it was television or radio networks, there was very little NHL chatter – the focus was completely on the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a particularly eery scene in Toronto, where Maple Leafs tend to be put under the microscope when October rolls around – that didn’t happen either.

via Rogers Media Room,

“Though their unforgettable season came to a close on Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays remain ratings winners. Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals delivered Sportsnet’s largest audience in network history with an average audience of 5.12 million viewers tuning in on October 23 to cheer on Canada’s team in their last game of the 2015 postseason. Overall, more than 12 million people watched some part of Friday’s broadcast – more than 1 in 3 Canadians.

Sportsnet’s previous all-time most-watched program was the Texas Rangers vs. Blue Jays showdown in Game 5 of American League Division Series on October 14, which delivered an average audience of 4.88 million.”

We obviously need to take into account that some baseball fans in Canada are not hockey fans.

At the same time, we should take into account that pure sports fan are pretty good at prioritizing events. For example, a general Canadian sports fan who likes hockey, and also likes baseball is more likely to watch postseason baseball opposed to the very beginning of a long 82-game NHL season. To the same point, the general sports fan will gravitate towards the NHL playoffs knowing there’s a long 162-game MLB season to catch beyond June.

So while the NHL should still generate a good amount of Canadian viewers (based on the overall passion for the sport), the question we should be asking – how many people are planning to shift to their focus to a baseball team that captivated an entire country, and had playoff success?

Fans wants to cheer for a winner. If Canada is unable to produce even one postseason participant, NHL Playoffs TV ratings will take a devastating, catastrophic hit north of the border.