Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NHL's meltdown gives other sports TV opportunity

NHL's meltdown gives other sports TV opportunity
Posted 5/10/2005 10:54 PM
Updated 5/11/2005 1:01 PM

Focusing on the notion that you're irreplaceable, rather than expendable, can be healthy.
Sadly, facts can sometimes get in the way. Take a pro league, whose player salaries averaged $1.83 million per year, that skips an entire season. That leaves the league's national TV carrier to gin up replacement shows to fill what would have been hundreds of hours of playoff coverage.

As the National Hockey League and its players association continue to meet today, this must be depressing: TV ratings, so far, suggest as many viewers might want to watch hockey players bowl as watch them play hockey.

ESPN's Bowling Night, in which pro athletes from sports including hockey hit the lanes, is a stalwart in a replacement lineup that's now averaging 0.7% of U.S. cable TV households on ESPN and 0.4% on ESPN2.

That might not sound like much. But consider that at this point last year, ESPN/ESPN2 had aired 46 NHL playoff games — and drawn identical average ratings.