Did Game 7 Save Hockey?
However, this season's Stanley Cup playoffs have been spectacular. Lots of exciting hockey, big names versus big names... it's been incredible, and it culminated in an improbable comeback by my favorite hockey team, The Pittsburgh Penguins, versus the premier team in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings. As we all know by now, the Pens fought back from the brink of elimination, forcing the series to a game seven, then winning it in dramatic fashion. I spent 15 minutes on Friday night screaming in celebration. What I didn't know is there were 8 million people watching with me.
While 8 million people doesn't seem like a lot, Friday's game seven was the most-watched NHL game in 36 years. Thirty-six years! As a hockey fan, I really hope some of these people stick around for the regular season, too. It seems like NBC is the perfect place for prime time hockey; I can only hope they broaden their slate a little bit and maybe launch some kind of Hockey Night in America.
To me, it seems like the perfect idea. Hockey has a pretty easily defined audience, and advertisers love that. Hockey fans are also loyal, so you know what kind of ratings you're going to get with hockey. It's also very cheap programming, and honestly, NBC's got nothing else going for it aside from The Office and the Tonight Show, so what do they have to lose? It beats the hell out of more I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.