Save for the Colorado Avalanche, every National Hockey League team has something positive to say about their local TV ratings.
According to SportsBusiness Journal, 21 of the 22 American-based NHL franchises have posted ratings increases so far this season. The lockout-shortened season meant big games from the second the league dropped the puck on Jan. 19, and also an entirely conference-based schedule, which has meant more marquee games. It may not be sustainable, but for the season, I'm sure the league will take it.
The NHL's local ratings leader is once again the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have seemingly been at or near the top since the last lockout. The Penguins are averaging an enormous 11.8 rating in their market on Root Sports, which is up 55 percent from midseason last year. The Penguins are followed up by the Buffalo Sabres (10.1, up 17 percent), the Boston Bruins (6.9, up 47 percent), the Chicago Blackhawks (5.6, up 88 percent) and the St. Louis Blues (4.6, up 82 percent).
Market size can prove a little deceiving when it comes to ratings, since Buffalo and Pittsburgh are much smaller than, say, New York or Chicago. In terms of households watching, the undisputed leader is the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks have 198,000 households tuning in to each game, which is up 86 percent from last year. The Hawks are followed by Boston (165,000, up 47 percent), Pittsburgh (138,000, up 55 percent), the Rangers (133,000, up 125 percent) and Philadelphia (101,000, up six percent).
Similarly, four of the five lowest-rated teams (Los Angeles, Anaheim, NY Islanders, New Jersey) play in the two biggest markets in the country. It makes more sense to look at the teams with lowest viewership. Those would be Dallas (21,000 households, up 50 percent), Phoenix (17,000, 142 percent), Colorado (16,000, down 11 percent), Columbus (11,000, up 22 percent) and lastly, the Florida Panthers, who average just 4,000 households per game. That's up from last year, too.
The biggest ratings increased all came to teams in big markets. The New Jersey Devils led the way, with a 205 percent growth over last year. The New York Islanders went up 147 percent, Phoenix by 130 percent, the Rangers by 125 percent, and Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles by 110 percent. The teams with the biggest increases in households were Chicago (up 92,000), the Rangers (up 74,000), Boston (up 53,000), Pittsburgh (up 49,000) and Minnesota (up 33,000).
Then there's the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were literally the only team to go down in any category and every category. They were down in ratings by 12 percent, and households by 22 percent and 2,000. The Avalanche were once a big flag bearer for this league out west, it's a shame that the team's fan base has gotten so apathetic. The rest of the league, however, has apparently joined the party and brought the league great success so far this season.