Alabama football is of course madly important to the people of Alabama. Every game is treated as life and death, and the annual Crimson Tide red vs. white spring game is only a notch below that. Like most spring games at big football schools, it’s a preview of the seasons to come and a fill of the football fix fans have been missing. But on a national level, you would think, an intrasquad exhibition game does not really resonate.

The NHL Playoffs, on the other hand, are theoretically of continental interest, attractive to fans from Miami to Manitoba. In Gary Bettman’s perfect world, all of North America is watching hockey this time of year, while tweeting breathlessly about how great playoff hockey is.

So that makes this kind of embarrassing:

So there are more people willing to watch an entirely meaningless college football scrimmage than the most important games of the hockey season. Does that mean there are more rabid fans of Alabama out there than fans of the NHL?

Well, maybe. But not necessarily.

For one thing, the Alabama spring game was on ESPN, whereas the NHL playoff games on cable were on NBCSN, CNBC, USA and NHL Network, none of which have ESPN reach or cache with sports fans. The hockey games broadcast on NBC did in fact beat the Alabama spring game.

Plus, the NHL Playoff ratings are being hurt by the league airing opening-round games on local TV in addition to national TV, as Greg Wyshynski explains:

“No surprise” seems like a stretch. If you’re a hockey fan or executive, you probably imagine the sport has a wide enough national following to beat a .6 rating with high-stakes playoff games. But local TV broadcasts are obviously a mitigating factor. So it turns out it’s not that no one wants to watch the NHL playoffs, it’s just that no one outside of local markets wants to watch the NHL Playoffs, which… still isn’t very good for the league.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

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