The New York Islanders’ rise from the bottom half of the NHL standings this season has coincided with a giant leap in local television ratings.
John Tavares’ bunch enjoyed the greatest increased TV viewership of all the American hockey teams, according to a report from the SportsBusiness Journal. The report uses Neilsen ratings from 21 of the league’s 23 clubs.
The Isles’ audience on the MSG Network (up 79 per cent) handily topped the L.A. Kings (up 43 per cent), Minnesota Wild (up 41 per cent) and New Jersey Devils (up 26 per cent) as the big gainers.
The 29th-place Arizona Coyotes, down 32 per cent on FS Arizona, suffered the most dramatic decline in viewership, followed by the San Jose Sharks (down 24 per cent) and Washington Capitals (down 24 per cent) — curious when you consider the Caps’ dramatic improvement on the ice and the impact of hosting the 2015 Winter Classic.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, broadcasted on Root Sports, rated the highest (6.55) for the sixth consecutive season despite losing 13 per cent of the audience they had in 2013-14. The St. Louis Blues (up 22 per cent) and Boston Bruins (down nine per cent) round out the three most-watched U.S. teams, locally.
Interestingly, three of the top five markets endured a decrease in viewership while three of the bottom five markets enjoyed an uptick. Parity, it appears, translates to the small screen.
Here is a chart noting the TV trends of the U.S. NHL teams, via SportsBusiness Journal: