Breaking Sports

Monday, June 06, 2005

nhl- Will the trend Continue

NHL television ratings have fallen steadily throughout Gary Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, down 40 percent since 1995-96 on ESPN and more than 50 percent on ESPN2 (see chart). But Bettman has always maintained that he didn’t believe the league had a problem on the television front. Two years ago, when the league’s five-year, $600 million contract with ABC and ESPN was about to expire, he boldly predicted the league’s next deal would be equal or better. The end result was deals that cut the guaranteed rights fees in half. That dwindled to nothing when ESPN did not exercise its option.
“If you have ratings that are that low, your partners are going to move on,” said television consultant Kevin O’Malley.