NHL's image rising? The Rangers role:
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07-20-2007, 11:22 PM
Change is good.
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Brooklyn of course
NYC prominance is absolutely, completely, enormously important to the level of attention a sport draws. ESPECIALLY a marginal sport like hockey.
Even if we were only talking about the impact of the local market on ratings, which people poo-poo, you have to remember that the NY market is HUGE (while NYC is roughly 8MM people, the NY metro area is 25-30MM, i.e. 10% of the national population). The NY metro area has at least 2 teams in every sport and 3 in hockey - no other city that I can think of comes close to that. I may be missing one or two, but as far as I can remember as I type this, the closest is LA with 2 basketball teams and 2 baseball teams (while not having even one NFL team) and the only other city with more than one team in a major sport of any kind is Chicago with 2 baseball teams.
But it's NOT JUST the impact of local market ratings. The NY media machine causes ripple effects that foment additional media coverage, which is a factor that is highly underrated (as is the fact that most national media conglomerates have NY headquarters, which significantly impacts what they cover). Heck, the ESPN campus is located in Connecticut. The NY team is hated as the evil empire in pretty much every sport (except perhaps football) - and viewership is drawn by strong feelings, not necessarily positive feelings.
Lastly, and perhaps the most underrated factor: moreso than any other city in the country, most citizens throughout the USA have ties to NY - I read a stat once somewhere that 1 out of 4 people in this country can trace their roots back to Brooklyn at one point in history (not NYC mind you, Brooklyn specifically).
It's not just a coincidence that hockey reached it's zenith in 1994 - not only did the Rangers win "Team of the Year" at the Espys (the only hockey team ever to do so I believe?), more impressively they actually LED SportsCenter broadcasts multiple times that year, especially as they started to progress in the playoffs. I can't remember the last time that a hockey team did that once, much less more than once. Heck, I remember SportsCenter showing a shot of Anthony Mason walking through an aisle betwen the 300s and 400s (I think) wearing a Rangers jersey and getting high fives from all the Rangers fans. That's not just the result of the 54 year curse or that the hockey was particularly good that year (which it undeniably was), that's because it was NYC.
You just watch - if the Rangers make it to the Cup this year, there will be some kind of agreement putting the NHL back on ESPN the following year.
Having said all of that, hockey can climb back to where it was in 1994, but I don't see it ever passing one of the other major three sports until they conquer the issue that Fox tried to address in the mid 90s with the much debated chip in the puck - the difficulty of following the puck in play. I'm sorry, but despite the fact that hockey is by far the fastest of the major sports and in many ways the most beautiful and the most explosive/violent, any sport that you have to LEARN how to watch will always fall behind the other easy-to-follow sports until they overcome that issue. (And bear in mind that as I say that that I love hockey more than any other sport.) In my opinion, that has always been hockey's biggest issue by far, waaaaay outstripping the old theory that the fact that only a small percentage of the population can play hockey. (As I said, I love the game more than any other - and my grand total of time playing ice hockey is about 5 periods of intramural play in college.)
Last edited by BrooklynRangersFan: 07-20-2007 at
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