Public viewing parties are one of the best ways to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs. Should you not be able to snag a ticket to a game, it's very likely your team of choice is holding a watch party that you can attend, often outside of the team's arena.
Yet, on the eve of the biggest game of the year, a Game 7 against the Penguins, the Lightning canceled their watch party scheduled to be held outside of Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay for the road game.
On tomorrow's #PITvsTBL Game 7: pic.twitter.com/gsHKbgtV4A— #GoBolts (@TBLightning) May 25, 2016
The news broke to some fervor that the NHL and NBCSN are behind the cancellation due to a chance to boost television ratings. It's no secret that the NHL's ratings have struggled this postseason, and it's uncertain whether that might be because of the lack of Canadian teams or the absence of their biggest markets such as Chicago from the Conference Finals.
@WFLAPaul nothing really, just rants on FB about food trucks getting a call this afternoon that it was called off pic.twitter.com/6TgxpIw4gd— ⚡ Louise ⚡ (@LForrest724) May 25, 2016
Though Facebook is no confirmation either way that the NHL pulled the plug on watch parties to salvage ratings, this isn't the first time this year one was canceled. The Penguins called off their public viewing parties in front of Consol Energy Center for the first round against the Rangers due "to the construction site across from [the arena] and concerns about NHL broadcast rights."
Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto told Post-Gazette affiliate KDKA-TV much of the same when the party were called off back in April, yet the Penguins have had public viewing parties since the original order was issued.
"It seems that there’s a little bit more pressure coming this year from both the NHL and the network to avoid having large-scale public broadcasts."
Update 5/26: The NHL responded to the cancellation, stating that the league's policy forbids teams from having multiple watch parties per round.
Response from NHL on TBL watch party: "NHL has a longstanding policy on watch parties, one per round per team." Seems like TBL violated that— Evan Axelbank Fox13 (@EvanAxelbank) May 26, 2016
NHL says they remind all playoff teams every year that they're allowed one watch party per round. Memo was sent this year on April 12— Evan Axelbank Fox13 (@EvanAxelbank) May 26, 2016
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