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What lockout? Business thriving, says NHL

Mar 8, 2013, 4:27 PM EDT

United Center Getty Images

The NHL is celebrating the halfway mark of the 2013 lockout-shortened season today. And yes, celebrating is an appropriate word.

Following is courtesy the NHL’s PR department:

The excitement generated by the League’s return is reflected in strong business metrics. Indicators of fan engagement — at the rink, on television and online — are up across the board:

– Overall, NHL teams are playing to 96.7% capacity, with a per-game average of 17,662 (up 3.6% over 2011-12). The average figure during February (17,625) was the highest recorded for that calendar month in League history.

National Broadcasts (all ratings numbers compared to last year’s full regular season figures)
– NBC network broadcasts are +29% and NBC Sports Network broadcasts are +23% over 2011-12;
– CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Prime East broadcasts are +16% and Prime West are +12% over 2011-2012;
– TSN Wednesday Night exclusive is +30% and TSN2 broadcasts are +26% over 2011-12;
– NHL on RDS broadcasts are +16% over 2011-12.

Regional Broadcasts
From coast to coast. Regional Sports Networks repeatedly have broken ratings records for their live broadcasts of NHL games this season:
– 28 of the 29* measured clubs are up or even over 2011-12;
– 25 of the 29* measured clubs are showing double/triple digit increases over 2011-12.
* TSN Jets Regional no longer measured by Nielsen Online

Now, some of the above may be attributed to the pent-up demand the lockout created. And it’s still going to be interesting to see what season-ticket renewal rates look like this offseason.

But consider: it’s only been a couple of months since the lockout ended. Clearly, a lot of people have been able to put the work stoppage in the rear-view mirror. And once the playoffs start, all that ridiculousness is going to be an even more distant memory.

  1. lonespeed - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    And attendence will go back down next year when they go to an entirely too long season. But hey, this season is a blast.

  2. ibieiniid - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    dont rub it in NHL. we know you have us under your thumb.

    i bought Center Ice… like a chump

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:01 PM

      But it was the lowest price ever! Don’t worry, I bought it too…

      • vbcaps - Mar 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        haha that is pretty funny

        good for the nhl tho. Yea the lock out sucked but it is still the best team sport out

  3. rpiotr01 - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Shorten the season, proof is in the pudding. Less games means each game is worth more. Fewer games also helps prevent fan fatigue and keeps interest higher.

    No need to have a 48 game season every year, but 68 would be nice.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Exactly! Just proof the 82 games is too many play 66 games, start the season at the regular time, playoffs start mid march and the Stanley Cup is awarded in Mid May at the latest. More isn’t always better.

    • crosberries - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      So if more games isn’t always better what’s the reasoning behind around almost 3 games a week (that won’t “burn out” a fan base) and the fans are still there every night? Just playing devils advocate.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:52 PM

        I think it’s the length of the schedule that matters, this is compact and lasts 99 days, you need to pay attention and every game matters. In a regular season that spans October to April and there’s 82 games you have several games that just don’t matter. In a full season nobody cares about a Monday night game in January against the Flames (and I say that as a huge Flames fan) but in a shortened season every game matters, that game against the Flames might be the difference between making the playoffs and not.

        The theory is with less games every team is in it longer which keeps interest up (example, I believe the Flames can make the playoffs) in a longer regular season teams get eliminated earlier and interest drops off in that market and in that team from other markets.

    • tdrusher225 - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:31 PM

      You’re so right! A shorter schedule is a great idea, I like the idea of 62, or somewhere around there. I think the same is true for the NBA, in that the amount of games is far too much and it wares these guys out and waters down the product. Not only would a shortened season prevent “fan fatigue”, but it makes for a much better product so these players aren’t overworked. Also, think it would allow teams to be more rested come playoff time. Which would make it even more fun!

  4. 13datsyuk13 - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    We are such suckers

  5. thedavesiknowiknow - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Whew. Thank God the NHL shot us straight again! Watch out, NFL.

  6. therealjr - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    And on that note, you can pretty much book the next lockout in 7 years, 6 months, 23 days….

    • thebadguyswon - Mar 8, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      Exactly. LOL. I’m glad hockey is back but it certainly doesn’t teach the league a lesson, that’s for sure.

  7. thehighcountrybear - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    I’d read an article claiming sales of NHL merchandise had fallen off the charts?

    The gear for big name players particularly, is gravy for the League and for team owners; with parking and concession revenue, the franchising of names and numbers is often what makes or breaks smaller market or marginal franchises…

    Good for the spin merchants, claiming things are coming up roses after surrendering better than half a season while putting television and commercial revenue in the tank, and at longer term risk. Pull the other one, it’s got a bell attached…

    While it may be argued $54 four ticket and a meal packages are necessary to fill half empty barns in the desert and in Florida, seeing these offers in the Detroit and Michigan market, arguably the soul place of US hockey, has to point to greater ills in the game; these include violence, fighting, debilitating injuries and of course, greed and more greed!

    Others have posted decrying the usually lengthy schedule while arguing for shorter seasons? You get my vote, but then I’m only a fan and but a tiny part of the star and money making machinery that would advocate longer seasons and greater exposure to the money filter that is professional sport.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      There was an article the other day (I don’t think PHT picked it up) saying that the NHL was on pace for $2.5 billion in revenue this year, that’s a massive number for only playing 60% of the games. The cheap tickets might be helping fill the buildings but it’s also helping fill the NHL coffers as well.

    • blomfeld - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      I CONCUR …

      As the “highcountrybear” notes, the NHL is facing far greater dangers in going forward than just “fan apathy” towards the 82 game schedule. And I believe that the 200′ x 85′ NHL rink dimension is by far the greatest danger of them all. How this league can continue with a rink dimension from 1862 (Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal ) is simply beyond belief. Player size, speed and strength is increasing almost exponentially from decade to decade and it’s an absolute recipe for disaster unless something is done. The easiest and most logical solution would be to adopt the International rink dimension of 197′ x 98′, including the extra 2 feet behind the goal. Of course the greedy and short-sighted owners are likely averse to such a change, given their fixation on “immediate” return. In the long run however, their greed and short-sightedness will ultimately become their downfall, given the “unsustainable” physics of the game’s current trajectory.

      Executive Summary: The NHL continuing on with a rink size that was designed in 1862, makes about as much sense as Navy Seal Team 6 reverting back to sabers and muskets!

      • tampabayirish - Mar 9, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        I think our guys in Seal Team 6 are so well trained and so tough that they would win a battle with sabres and muskets….I also like the idea of switching to the Olympic sized ice rink.

  8. giantssb42champs - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    NHL fans are pathetic sheep

  9. sampulls - Mar 8, 2013 at 7:17 PM


    Do you realize how stupid you sound?

    • blomfeld - Mar 9, 2013 at 12:31 AM

      Sampulls … and do you realize how “sheep” like you are ?

  10. phillyphanatic77 - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    I’m sure this will just reinforce the idea in Bettman’s head that he can do whatever he wants come next CBA negotiation and we will all just come crawling back. Don’t mistake our loyalty for weakness, Gary. I am ecstatic that hockey is back after that travesty, but I don’t know if we’ll be as forgiving next time. Can’t wait to see his reception at this years Cup presentation.

    • woodstakes - Mar 9, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      Philly, while I respect your statement, especially about “Don’t mistake our loyalty for weakness”, but the problem is that WE KEEP COMING BACK!! Now, I’m not saying everyone should boycott the league for an entire season as that would take away the game we love. BUT, in today’s world of social media and the ability to reach people, there is no reason the fans (if we TRULY wanted to) couldn’t come together and make a statement. A statement with the ONLY thing the NHL really cares about, they don’t care about our happiness, our love of the game, our hearts that are broken when our team loses in the conference finals, or even care about the GAME ITSELF… the ONLY thing they care about is MONEY! The only vote we have is with our cash, credit and debit cards. That’s it! That’s our voice, that’s our vote.. THAT’s our POWER!!

      Why we couldn’t/didn’t organize a complete boycott of the opening week of this season after a UTTERLY needless lockout (needless in the sense that NO TEAM would have folded playing another year on the last CBA) and listen to all the PR spin BS for that many months. 1 WEEK! 1 WEEK with everyone posting on NHL/Facebook, and the like. With a simple message… NEVER AGAIN!! DO THIS TO US AGAIN AND GOODBYE! DON’T BELIEVE US… LOOK AT YOUR ARENA’s!! EMPTY!!

      THAT would show strength! That would show conviction! That would show, we aren’t kidding when we say “This Lockout is BS and we’re not going to come back!” That would have shown them that “The #1 Fans in the World!” are f’ing pissed!! So we made a statement and believe you me they would have sh#% their pants if on opening day the arena’s were empty and remained that way for 7 consecutive days. You would have heard some really serious “I’m sorry to the fans…” then.

      But we didn’t and as soon as there can be another lockout… there will be another lockout and it will probably be as long or longer than the last lockout. Why? Pretty simple, look at the numbers. Real question is, why the hell not!!

  11. mattmc20 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    Well I can proudly boast that after I sent my resignation letter of fandom letter to the Red Wings just before the lockout became official, I have not watched a single game, bought a ticket package/any single ticket or a single piece of NHL crap. I stand by what I said and this is EXACTLY why Bettmen will lockout the players in 6-8 years again, he knows you will come back. Follow the lead, DON’T DO IT!

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