While the deluge of outdoor hockey games may be killing the magic that used to surround the event, there is no arguing that the three Stadium Series games have so far been a success. Fans packed Dodger Stadium last weekend to take in the spectacle of outdoor hockey in Southern California, and Yankee Stadium was also filled for both the Devils and Islanders games against the New York Rangers.
We are still awaiting the numbers for last night’s Rangers / Islanders broadcast, but the first Yankee Stadium game set a new viewership record for the NBC networks for a NHL regular season game (excluding Winter Classics). The game averaged 2.079 million viewers. It’s 5.1 Nielsen rating in the New York market made it the highest ranked NBC network NHL game ever for that region. The Kings / Ducks match up averaged 622,000 viewers and saw a 139% increase in the average viewership for the late game time slot when compared to 2013 10pm telecasts. [ Courtesy of NBC ]
However, is the magic wearing off? There was considerably less buzz for the Rangers / Islanders game. This could be attributed to the game being scheduled on a weekday, instead of the usual weekend time slot reserved for outdoor games. The fact that its Super Bowl Week in New York City may have also dampened the usual media storm that surrounds NHL outdoor games.
Part of the urge to tuning in to an outdoor game is the stadium itself. Having already seen Yankee Stadium decked out for hockey on Sunday, last night’s game kind of had a “been there, done that” feel to it. It was the Apollo 12 to Sunday’s Apollo 11. I watched because I am a hockey fan, but I find it hard to believe the casual / new fan got fired up for another Yankee Stadium game.
We get a nice month long break from outdoor hockey, as the next game isn’t until March 1st, when the Penguins take on the Blackhawks at Soldier Field. I find myself actually welcoming the break, as I feel like I have been on outdoor hockey overload for the past week. The question remains; is the stadium series growing interest in the sport of hockey, or is it poisoning the money tree that has served the NHL well over the last few years?