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You didn’t pay much attention this story because (a) why would you? and (b) see (a). But HockeyWorld was reeling from news that ESPN/TNT ratings for its NHL TV packages were down 22 percent from last year, becoming the new stalking horse to bring Gary Bettman to his knees as he begins his second 30-year reign. : Earth’s longest-serving commissioner. Getting teams on ESPN was one of his kids, just like the Arizona Coyotes, and you know how well that went down; find an abandoned Costco, slap on a few hundred chairs, ice the floor, and enjoy the fun.

Now there are valid reasons for the decline that have been highlighted quite exhaustively Sean Gentile of The Athletic, but here’s an alternate lens. This is always a stupid hill that others will even stub a toe on, let alone die for. No one defends the hills to the death anymore. they raze them to the ground and then put an unnecessary 21,000-seat arena on top of them.

Rankings have always been about pointing at people and either scolding them for not helping them improve (like the NBA, NHL, or MLB), or raving about them and concluding that you suck if you don’t compete with the best. – baby brigade or larger hive mind (like the NFL, WNBA, and whatever the return of tennis, auto racing, stickball, or, although no one asked for it, arena football). They are there to set ad rates and you hate ads so figure out the Venn diagram on that one.

Ratings are never your problem. If you want to watch a game, you can find it. You can decide if you want to pay for it, convince your friends or your bar to pay for it, or just pirate it, but it will be there. And that’s what you’re in it for. Whether the Winnipeg Jets get the most money from their showdown with the Calgary Flames is David Thomson’s problem, not yours, and he’s already got a $54 billion head start. It’s his problem to worry about, not yours.

And don’t worry about losing games if the ratings keep dropping. They will never go that low because media rights are what keep the whole airship from crashing into the parade below. Games are everywhere because there’s no need to have a league if people aren’t paying to watch it. Even the fears that sports networks are dying, and maybe your local team’s rights fees are going up, it’s not your problem. That’s their problem, and if regionals die, teams will find another way to take your wallet out of your hands. They’re better at that than making the playoffs.

Really, the only way the ratings will affect you is if you’re at your favorite pub (or one of the worst) and want to watch Breanna Stewart’s first game with the Liberty while all the other corpses are working out at the bar. want to watch Nationals-Brewers and there’s only one screen? Finish your drink, close your tab, and find a bar somewhere with ESPN2, or at least one that doesn’t really care about Brandon Woodruff vs. Cade Cavalli.

So there’s your summary of the NHL ratings crisis, which is that there isn’t one and never has been. At least not for you. It will pass, or it won’t, and you as a consumer will be stuck with high prices from someone until it’s someone else, until one day you decide it’s too rich for your blood. That is the real problem that the leagues are fighting against. find the price point that actually drives people away. You all know what it’s worth. it’s that red flag in your rear view mirror stuck on that forsaken hill nobody ever died on.


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