Connor Bedard Dec 31, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard (98) and Dallas Stars defenseman Ryan Suter (20) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL is holding strong locally coming out of this season’s All-Star Break.

Per the Sports Business Journal, the league’s local ratings are up roughly 3% from the midway point of last season. This comes on the heels of the league’s national viewership up double digits on both ESPN and TNT heading into the break.

As usual, when looking at the NHL’s local ratings, the Canadian teams are not included, nor are the Predators and Hurricanes (which air on regional sub-feeds of Bally Sports South). This season, the Coyotes and Golden Knights, whose games shifted from regional sports networks (RSNs) to over-the-air stations, are also not included since their new homes are not rated by Nielsen. Comscore data reveals that Golden Knights ratings are up 36% this season, which would be the third-largest increase across the league.

Streaming viewership is also not included.

The team with the largest local ratings gain this season is actually the Anaheim Ducks, who have seen a 41% increase on Bally Sports SoCal. The Chicago Blackhawks, buoyed by Connor Bedard’s rookie season, are up 38% on NBC Sports Chicago. The ratings jump for both teams clearly isn’t based on their on-ice performance, as the Blackhawks and Ducks are the worst and third-worst teams in the Western Conference.

The two New York City-based teams, the Islanders and Rangers, rank in the top five largest increases with spikes of 32% and 30%, respectively, on MSG. The Detroit Red Wings round out the top five with a 22% increase on Bally Sports Detroit.

On the other side of the coin, the Washington Capitals have seen the largest rating decrease this season, down 44% on the rebranded Monumental Sports Network. San Jose Sharks games are down 31% on NBC Sports Bay Area. Tampa Bay Lighting games have decreased by 23% on Bally Sports Sun, while St. Louis Blues games are down 22% on Bally Sports Midwest, despite both teams contending for the playoffs. Oddly, the Boston Bruins have seen a 17% decline on NESN this season, even though they’re tied for the highest points total in the league.

For the NHL and its teams, local ratings holding steady despite continued cord-cutting and uncertainty about RSNs is a positive development. We saw similar positivity in the fall with MLB’s local ratings, perhaps indicating we’ve already passed the worst stage of local sports ratings across the country.

[Sports Business Journal]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.