The Pittsburgh Penguins may have had a double digit ratings drop in the 2014-15 season, but it didn’t stop the team’s five year streak as the country’s top local market for NHL ratings. Root Sports Pittsburgh averaged a 6.55 rating for the Penguins for the ’14-’15 regular season. While that’s down significantly from the lockout season of 2012-13 when the ratings averaged an astounding 12.56 and down again from 2013-14’s 7.55, the Pens still lead all U.S. markets.
This is despite the St. Louis Blues on Fox Sports Midwest having a 22% increase from last season and could only muster a 4.92 average rating to finish second. The Boston Bruins (NESN), Chicago Blackhawks (Comcast SportsNet Chicago) and Minnesota Wild (Fox Sports North) round out the top five.
Sports Business Journal notes that New York Islanders on MSG/MSG Plus/MSG Plus 2 saw the biggest increase of all local teams with a 79% spike in ratings, but it only gave them an average 0.61 number and they remained in the second half of the league.
Despite being a bad team, Buffalo on MSG Buffalo received a 4.10 average rating ranking the Sabres 6th, down from 2nd overall last season.
The Los Angeles Kings on Fox Sports West with a 0.57 (despite a 43% jump from the year before), Arizona Coyotes (FS Arizona), Anaheim Ducks (FS Prime Ticket), New Jersey Devils (MSG Plus) and the Florida Panthers (FS Florida) rank at the bottom of the NHL. In fact, the Panthers’ 0.17 is a drop of 19% from the year before.
The biggest ratings drop was in Arizona where the Coyotes had a 51% decrease from the previous season.
Overall, the league’s best hockey markets were in places where the sport traditionally does well. For the teams that ranked at the bottom, four of the last five are non-traditional hockey markets, but the Kings were coming off a Stanley Cup Championship season plus had a big ratings spike.
Despite the low ratings in some markets, the NHL provides regional sports networks with some much needed winter programming and helps to fill content holes where needed.