The NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft saw its ratings plummet last week. While a shift to Thursday and a more competitive night on TV was the most obvious cause, the absence of several stars — Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne — in a star-driven event was thought to have some impact as well.
Or maybe not. Without those big names, the NHL All-Star Game still managed to maintain its ratings from last season. From Steve Lepore of Puck The Media:
The game drew a 1.0 overnight rating on the NBC Sports Network. This was even with the number that VERSUS drew for last year's All-Star Game in Raleigh.
In addition, it was (as last year's) up 22% from the game in 2009 at Montreal, the last time the All-Star Game was held in Canada. The All-Star Game was not held in 2010 due to the Olympics.
No word on the Canadian numbers yet.
Point of reference here: The NBA All-Star Game did a 6.2 overnight on TNT last season. But hey: Just as many people call hockey their favorite sports as pro basketball; so we've got that going for us, which is nice.
But here's the takeaway from the NHL All-Star Game's consistent ratings: It's a good sign for the League. Via the Toronto Star story before Sunday's event, on how the NHL is marketing events rather than stars:
Now the NHL follows a different path, one forged by the NFL, the behemoth when it comes to sports marketing. Instead of focusing on stars, it focuses on the game, the event. Brett Favre retired. Peyton Manning missed the season. But no one is bigger than the game.
To some, evidence suggests the NHL is maturing.
"Think of the NHL 20 years ago as a brand and think of them today. They've done a pretty good job," says Norman O'Reilly, associate professor of sport business at the University of Ottawa. "Take TV at the all-star game. It would be naïve to say the loss of Crosby and Ovechkin doesn't hurt (but) you'll probably see ratings that are as good as last year. That's evidence of success in marketing."
And, of course, The Drake Effect.