NHL All-Star Game ratings crash in U.S., Canada

NHL All-Star Game ratings crash in U.S., Canada

The disconnect between the NHL All-Star Game’s entertainment value on-site and on television grows forever wider.

Having covered the weekend in Columbus, it was a blast. OK, the actual game wasn’t – that was pretty unwatchable. But the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft and Skills Competition delivered and were a riot to watch.

Having now seen the TV ratings for these events … woof.

NBCSN in the U.S. reports that the All-Star Game on Sunday delivered 1.194 million viewers, which was a 14-percent drop from the 2012 game on NBCSN (1.317 million). The Skills Competition delivered 895,000 viewers, down 15% from the 2012 competition on NBCSN (1.104 million). The Fantasy Draft on Friday delivered 310,000 viewers, down 24% from the 2012 Fantasy Draft (408,000).

The good news for NBC, such as it is, was that the All-Star Game was the most-watched NHL game on NBCSN since the Stanley Cup Final and the 1.194 million viewers were up 240 percent vs. the network’s regular-season average from last season 351,000.

The ratings picture in Canada wasn’t all that sunnier. From Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star:

Sunday’s game that featured an absurd 29 goals drew 1.479 million viewers to CBC, nearly one million viewers less than the last all-star game in 2012 when 2.454 million people watched and 2011 when 2.363 million tuned in.

The ratings for the rest of the weekend were also down significantly compared to previous years. Saturday’s super skills drew 1.7 million viewers to CBC, down from 2.5 million in 2012 and 2.4 million in 2011. And Friday’s fantasy draft on Sportsnet drew a hair over half-a-million viewers, compared to 1.33 million in 2012 on TSN and 1.5 million in 2011.

Again, it’s a shame, because the weekend on a whole was pretty entertaining for the NHL.

So what was it? Too much of a transition year as far as star power, with familiar names like Crosby and Malkin and Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Jagr and Lundqvist not in the game? Were the jerseys just too fug? Did Fall Out Boy fail to light enough mups?

We’re not sure how the NHL reacts to this. On the one hand, what happens inside the host city – from a revenue perspective – will always be paramount, and the all-star weekend seemed to work in Columbus.

On the other hand … well, the All-Star Game itself was like watching paint dry while sitting next to a jackhammer. Will they consider a format change to the event or to the game itself? Or do we just chalk this one up as being a bad finish to a good weekend?