CFL isnt only league that took ratings hit

Canadian hockey fans' euphoria at having their game back, which produced record TV ratings, has apparently cooled off.

National ratings for CBC and TSN show a significant decline from last season, the first after the NHL lost an entire season to a labour dispute.

And while the league has been touting the attractiveness of the "new NHL," with its new rules designed to open up the game, ratings thus far indicate the league is not much more popular here than it was prior to the lockout.

There are some possible explanations, but TV executives are mystified by the size of the decrease.

Hockey Night In Canada ratings are off 19 per cent for the early game and a whopping 33 per cent for the late one compared to last year. TSN's ratings have dropped 18 per cent.

That follows a season that saw CBC ratings soar to their highest level in more than a decade and TSN's set an all-time record.

"We all thought the numbers would come down, but this is more than we thought," admits Joel Darling, CBC senior executive producer. "It's a bit puzzling.

"It's like a lot of things; sometimes the honeymoon isn't as long as we'd like it to be."

While TSN can boast a 37 per cent increase over its pre-lockout season, CBC audiences are equal for the early game and 11 per cent lower than 2003-04 for the late one. And though TSN's increase seems impressive, a much-improved schedule featuring more Canadian teams has accounted for a portion of that.

"Canadians aren't flocking back to hockey the way they did last year," says TSN president Phil King. "There was that giant `We missed you and welcome back' that's not there this season.

"It wasn't just the lockout. Half the players changed teams, Gretzky was coaching, rules had changed. There was a lot of interest in everything."

The sports network's 18 per cent drop this year is actually more severe because TSN did not include ratings for opening night, believing they would throw overall numbers too far out of whack.

King says the 2.2 million audience TSN drew for the October 2005 opening night was unusually high thanks to hockey's return, an evening that featured five Canadian teams and the debut of Wayne Gretzky as a coach. (This year's opener averaged 1.3 million viewers.)

Neither Darling nor King could point to one single reason for the decline but offered possible explanations:

The poor performance by the Vancouver Canucks has caused ratings in British Columbia to drop 30 per cent for the late CBC game and 47 per cent for the early one. "In addition, we didn't have a Vancouver Saturday night game until Nov. 4," Darling says.

Low expectations for the Toronto Maple Leafs may have sent viewers looking for other forms of entertainment. "After missing the playoffs, the buzz wasn't there," King says.

A new schedule that has the same teams playing frequently may be boring some fans, though Darling points out that the three Montreal-Toronto games have produced the CBC's biggest audiences.

Both dismissed criticism from some quarters, led by the CBC's Ron MacLean, that the league's crackdown on fouls has reduced the game to shinny. But even MacLean has admitted fans like the game and a Decima poll taken last June showed that 76 per cent of fans who gave opinions felt the game had improved.

TSN analyst Pierre McGuire ( the most annoying man in sports ) sides with them.

"The game is being played at an awesome level right now," he says.

"Everywhere I go in Canada, the arenas are full, so that should tell you something."

Though ratings are off from last season, King is not concerned.

"As long as we're up from the pre-lockout, we should be happy," he says.

There's no denying that. But it does appear that last year's ratings surge has peaked and that things have returned to pre-lockout levels.

That could hurt the NHL, which is hoping that improved ratings, combined with a fierce battle between the CBC and CTV-TSN, would help to boost rights fees when they come up for renewal after next season.

But even if ratings remain flat, the NHL is still far and away the country's top television sports draw.

Both Darling and King are confident that ratings will improve in the second half of the season.

King notes that if the Leafs continue to win after Christmas, which they didn't do last season, that could provide a significant audience boost.

IMO, the reason for the dropoff is that too many fans oustide of the NHL cities dont like the new NHL. The pre-lockout games were trapping snoozefests, and now fans say there not enough hitting, its glorified pond hockey. I believe that hockey is not a sport that translates well to TV, to fully appreciate the speed of the game is to go to an NHL or major junoir game at an arena near you. Other sports and leagues are better suited for TV, such as football, baseball or basketball.

Personally, I don't care for the Hockey much any more....and the same goes for Baseball and Basketball and NFL Football.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that these players are WAY OVERPAID to play a Game! That translates into overpriced tickets for live games!

If you don't get to a live game once in a while...I think you lose touch with the "feel" for being at a game when watching on TV.

In any event...I just don't watch with much interest much other than CFL football when it is on TV. We get spoiled with excellent seats for a fare price at Ivor Wynne! :thup:

Now a winning season and a play-off spot would be a nice bonus! :thup: :thup:

Bang on Sambo. I used to watch hockey all the time during winter. But last year watching this “New NHL” is so boring with 30 power plays a game. I know the hooking and holding had to be called and can accept that, but now we get Phantom calls 2-3 times a night where players fall down and a penalty is called.

I have yet to see a game in its entirety the last two years. I start out watching, but after the first 3 or 4 bogus penalty calls, I switch channels.

Thanks Goodness for the WHL. I’ve seen more games on Shaw than NHL games this year!

The only thing I find interesting about the NHL anymore is Don Cherry's 1st intermission segment. I have little or no interest until the playoffs, and then only if the 2-3 teams that interest me are playing.

The only sports I go out of my way to watch are CFL and the NFL Patriots.

I personally have lost a lot of interest in the NHL. I haven't been back to GM Place since the lockout not out of bitterness but it gave me the chance to see the WHL and I got hooked. I had never been to a Giants game until the lockout year and now, after the Lions I follow and spend more money on the Giants than any other Vancouver team.

I prefer the old NHL, too much is called now. But I still watch every HNIC.

the thing that i dont like about the NHL, is way too many teams in dumb places...do we really need 3 teams in california, while we dont have teams in quebec city or winnipeg???...

too many games that dont matter...i dont want to see the habs vs phoenix, or calgary vs columbus....who the heck are the bluejackets, thrashers or the the preditors ( sounds like arena football names )???

and at the same time, i dont want to see the leafs vs boston 4 times in 3 weeks....

i miss the old days ( to me thats '93 )...with the whalers, the jets, the nords, and the old sabres logo! ( no panthers, ducks, thrashers or preds )

Woody couldn't agree with you more.
Overpaid, greedy athletes appear to be tuning alot more people off these days.
Good on the NHL, the league that has sold out Canadian hockey years ago.

Unless Montreal's playing I will not watch the early HNIC broadcast. I'm sick of seeing Toronto every single Saturday when there are two other Canadian teams out east. It's always nice in the play-offs when the Leafs lose out and HNIC has to show the real contenders. Cole, Neale, and Cherry probably have a cry when this happens, but I love it.

As far as the new NHL goes I love it. I love that a hooking and holding are actually called as they should be throughout the game. If you want to be able to play in the NHL you should learn how to skate not just be big. I also like how the goaltenders aren't michelin men anymore and actually have to use skill to stop the puck instead of just their equipment.

One of the problems with hockey in my opinion is that you can watch the play for 5 minutes or so, no whistles, but nothing happens, it really is glorified pond hockey. Sure the odd hit here and there, very here and there, but it just doesn't grab me. I love playing the game, a lot of fun, but don't like watching it much on TV.
Also I agree with Sambo. The boards and glass get in the way to really make hockey come across on TV as good as the other sports, especially football (really like the NFL cameras and their slow mo, hope Canadian networks can do this type of slo-mo stuff more showing from the end zone linebackers eyes and running plays up the middle). But I am finding basketball, a sport I'm not too keen on, actually pretty good on TV as the cameras can get right in there with no boards and glass.

What hockey should do is go to an 18 game schedule like football and just let the players hit, hit and hit some more and each game would be meaningful. That might make me watch it more.

its also unrealistic...lol

I did say it in jest really about the number of games although I think if they did shorten the season, you would see more intensity in the games.
But one thing I do like about hockey on TV is the sound is good with the puck going into the boards and some hits agains't the boards, this I like.

Geez, ppl got to stop quoting out of news articles....
Say what you have to type and be done with it.
We have computers, newspapers, tv, cell phones, that even send us these facts if we want them to.
Ratings are off because more kids now adays want to PLAY the video game version of whatever, ON their cell phone, computer, tv....
Do we HAVE to watch more tv????

Agree 100% sambo...except for the Baseball on tv thing. I never could get into a bunch of guys standing around waiting to see where the little ball ends up. :lol: More fun watching paint dry.

Besides...I don't know if you can recieve the "Versus" network? (Formerly OLN) In Canada, but if you can there's always the N.L.L. And VS. is broadcasting a "game of the week" every Saturday night starting at 10:00 p.m. eastern time beginning on December 30th. Greta sport,great Canadian talent and no lockout :slight_smile:

How many americanized rules are we supposed to put up with? Something that was never gonna happen, Shootouts, happened. They cracked down on the horrible clutch'n'grab hockey, but completely misunderstood what was to be done in this area, and are now calling the most frustrating calls where I notice game after game of horrible calls.
I mean change the things that make sense. Don't change the rules every single season, otherwise its "luck of the draw" for whomever wins the stanley cup and not proving who the best team is whatsoever.