NHL fighting ban wouldn’t impact fan viewership, survey reveals

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If the National Hockey League banned fighting tomorrow, just over half of NHL fans say that it would have no impact on their viewership of NHL games, according to a new Yahoo Sports/YouGov poll.

According to the survey, 51 percent of current U.S.-based NHL fans said that a formal ban on fighting would have “no impact” on their viewership; 24 percent said it would make them “more likely” to watch games; and 25 percent said it would make them less likely to watch games.

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The survey is one of several conducted by Yahoo Sports and YouGov on the NHL and hockey fandom. In the coming days, you’ll see further insight on fans’ viewing habits, the state of the game and which players are considered “must-watch” by fans.

On fighting, there was a demographic split among men and women.

Male fans are more adverse to a fighting ban, with 30 percent saying they’d be less likely to watch the NHL after a ban vs. only 18 percent of women saying the same. Women were more likely to say that banning fighting would have no impact on their viewership, 57 percent vs. 47 percent for men.

NHL
NHL

Among age groups, 29 percent of fans ages 18-to-34 said they would be more likely to watch games if fighting was banned, vs. 21 percent of fans ages 35-to-45 and 20 percent of fans 55-and-older.

One interesting breakout in the numbers: The disparity between “very interested” fans and “somewhat interested” fans of the NHL:

 

NHL
NHL

As you can see, the “very interested” NHL fans have a significantly higher percentage that say they’re “more likely” to watch games if fighting was banned. But 83 percent of fans that are “somewhat interested” in the NHL said a fighting ban would have no impact or make them less likely to watch.

If we’re to assume these are the elusive “casual fans” the NHL is chasing, a ban on fighting might not be the catnip some assume it is.

Now, what about the reasons one might want to see fighting banned in the NHL? Glad you asked:

NHL
NHL

More than a quarter of NHL fans (27 percent) said that player injuries and/or concussion concerns were the main reason they wouldn’t want to see players fight during NHL games.

The second highest polling reason was “they serve no purpose” (16 percent); followed by “it disrupts the flow of the game” (14 percent), “it slows the game down” (11 percent) and “there aren’t fights in other sports” (3 percent).

That said, 22 percent of respondents said that “there is no reason I would not want to see a fight among players” in an NHL game.

Here is the gender breakdown on the numbers:

NHL
NHL

And here is the demographic one:

 

NHL
NHL

Interesting to note that 18-to-34 fans put a premium on the speed of the game, while 34-to-45 fans clearly still love the fights they grew up watching (raises hand, admits guilt).

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,180 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 17th November 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18-plus).

Up Next: Who are the must-see players in the NHL?

Graphics by Paul Rosales/Graphics Editor, Yahoo Sports

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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