By Jason Fryer
If your a Hockey fans or not, if you haven't heard, the Chicago Blackhawks have recorded a point in 24 straight games to start a season (which is already an NHL Record). If that wasn't enough, if you go back to previous season, the Hawks, (yes I say the Hawks because I'm a life long fan from Chicago), have recorded a point in 30 straight games, which is good for the second longest streak in the history of the NHL (35 is the record by from the 1979-1989 Philadelphia Flyers at 35), and are also riding a 11 game winning streak. Without the Blackhawks going through this "tremendously tremendous" (Blackhawks and NHL fans will know where this reference is coming from) streak, Hockey would receive its usual 2 minutes on ESPN, but with this streak, the NHL is now being mentioned as one of the top stories on SportsCenter on a consistent basis.
On January 19th, the NHL began their 2013 shortened season with a wide range of excitement and exposure from both local and national TV networks. Following the openers from that day, the talk around the NHL environment quickly started to dwindle and Hockey went right back to its original starting point of 2 having minutes of highlights per night midway through an hour long SportsCenter episode. However, as the Blackhawks were staring to make history, everyone around not just the Hockey world, but the entire sports world started to take notice, creating a buzz that hockey hasn't seen since…well unfortunately the 2004-2005 NHL Lockout (that year the NHL missed the entire season and this year they missed a number of games but still played in the end).
With this how have the rating been for the Blackhawks throughout this NHL Streak. Locally, the Hawks have recorded record number and have become "must watch television" night in and night out in the Windy City. With the Hawks great start, and such a large up and coming hockey market, that's not surprising; but what about on the National level? Well, according to the numbers, the Blackhawks have also helped make the NHL one of the most watched games even on a national stage.
So as shown above, the streak has had a significant effect on not just Chicago, but also on the National Television Market.
So what if this streak had occurred in Edmonton, Phoenix, Nashville, or St. Louis, would this streak have the same affect? Easy answer here:
Chicago Blackhawks are an Original 6 Franchise, in the third largest
U.S. City, that features one of the biggest NHL followings, and has 2 of
the youngest and most recognizable players in the NHL. Hockey need for a
streak like this to happen to a team like the Blackhawks so people
would be able to relate to a team like this. Fortunately for the NHL,
the Blackhawks have players that fans can recognize, as both Blackhawks
Superstars have already been on the cover of an NHL Video Game Patrick
Kane (NHL 10) and Jonathan Toews (NHL 11). If that wasn't enough, both
Kane and Toews were also prominent players during the 2010 Olympics with
Kane recording 3 goals and 3 assists and Toews being name the best
forward during the Olympic Games. Oh and by the way…because Kane's from
the USA, its even easier for fans that don't usually follow hockey to be
able to cheer for.
These two young and talented superstars that have been and are easy for the NHL to market around as both have been able to reach such a young demographic, while already having such large amounts of success (both have already won a Olympic Medal and Stanley Cup (Kane with the Championship Goal and Toews with the Conn Smythe or the Playoff MVP) at the age of 24. The only places where a streak like this would have been is in Chicago, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. Outside of those 5 cities, there wouldn't have been as much exposure on the National seen and sorry fans of Canadian Hockey teams (and yes I know the Leafs were recently valued by Forbes Magazine at $1 Billion Dollars) but the National stations in the US want to show Stores that occur in the US. For example, look at the biggest Soccer Matches, outside the World Cup (Which includes the USA), do the major sports shows in the US discuss Premier League Soccer?
will see a lot less NHL exposure on the National seen. However, when
this streak eventually does end, it will be fun to realize that a
non-Stanley Cup/Winter Classic Event was the lead story for almost a
month on every national network.
So Hockey fans around the world, you should be thrilled and embracing the Chicago Blackhawks streak over the past 3 month. Thanks to the Hawks streak, (which has lead to larger viewership numbers), there is a strong likelihood hockey fans will be able to see additional national televised games on a nightly basis. With the additions of both NBC Sports Network and NHL Network over the past few years, there has been a large upgrade of available hockey to find on television then in previous years. However, I still feel the NHL needs to add one more channel (just for the Playoffs) so all the NHL playoff games can be televised on National Television (like the other Big 3 Professional Sports), and hockey fans wouldn't have to worry about missing a Playoff Game. The playoffs are great in all professional sports, and because of this, at times the general public is missing the best hockey of the year. So thank you Blackhawks for this streak not just from a Blackhawks standpoint, but also as a hockey fan. The NHL needed something crazy good to happen(after everything that happened from October until mid-January) and luckily for everyone in the NHL Community, it happened to the perfect team at the perfect time.
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