Hey, anybody remember hockey? The fastest game on earth? Little round disc, guy with loud jackets?
Seems if the players aren’t wearing blue and white sweaters with little leaves on them, a lot of us just don’t care. The ratings for the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs have been astonishingly low.
How low? A CBC Saturday broadcast between two Original Six border cities, Detroit and Chicago–albeit beginning at one in the afternoon to please NBC schedulers–drew 440,000 viewers (all data overnight estimates). That’s about what Cracked drew this season on CBC.
Look at these tallies for other Detroit-Chicago round two games: 1,622,000 viewers May 20, 1,000,000 May 23,  1,548,000 May 27 (all in prime time). Hockey Night in Canada scores more viewers every week in season. And this for a hard-earned, come-from-behind rally by the Blackhawks.
CBC did do better with the one Canadian team still in the second round. Ottawa-Pittsburgh games drew 1,698,000 on May 17, 2,028,000 May 22 and a high of 2,306,000 on Sunday, May 19. With all the Canadian teams now eliminated, however, there seems to be less of an appetite for playoff hockey in Canada.
Look at TSN’s numbers for Boston vs. New York Rangers, two fabled franchises with plenty of fans in Toronto and other Canadian cities. TSN drew 1,163,000 May 16 with Rangers/Bruins, 611,000 May 19 (for a 3 p.m. Sunday start), 1,158,000 May 21 and 1,088,000 May 25. Decent numbers, but for an exciting, close, seven game series, you would expect more.
The San Jose-Los Angeles series suffers from airing in a later timeslot, but there also seems to be less interest in West Coast American teams. Look at their totals on TSN: 580,000 (for a “joined in progress” game on May 16), 766,000, 789,000, 523,000, 767,000 and, finally, 1,177,000 on May 28. Those are, like, curling numbers.
In summing up round two, therefore, there were just a few games over two million, all involving Ottawa and one of the most exciting teams left in the playoffs, Sidney Crosby’s Penguins.
That last Toronto-Boston round one game? Over 5.1 million CBC viewers.
Last spring, numbers sagged when the Canucks made an early exit. It’s not the competition on other channels–TV viewership is down across the board. Is it the great weather? Rob Ford? Or is hockey losing its hammerlock on Canadians? What’s up, Canada?

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