Arbitron Reports On NHL Regular Season Listenership
June 26, 2013

For the first time, Arbitron has compiled averages for the NHL regular season. The company measured 22 North American teams in 19 PPM markets (3 from New York – Rangers, Devils, Islanders; 2 from Los Angeles – Ducks and Kings). One professional hockey diary market (Buffalo) is not measured.  And, obviously, nothing being reported from the seven Canadian teams.

The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks had the largest cume among Persons 6+, with 129,800. The New York Islanders were ranked last with just 2,000. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the largest average share among Men 25-54 with a 33.3 share, far and away beyond the second ranked St. Louis Blues, with a 12.6 share. The Islanders again were ranked last with just a 0.1.

Arbitron has also released a number of notes and observations from its study of NHL listenership:

• Where’s the support from the NHL? Try finding any radio information on the teams web pages and it’s almost nonexistent. Download a schedule for Outlook, or an Apple product and TV information is everywhere…radio is likely no where to be found.

• Many teams saw performance improvements when compared to last year. Some would consider the shortened season a reason. Suddenly, with 46 rather than 82 games, each game mattered in many minds. In addition, the schedule was more regionally focused than nationally. For example, the Washington Capitals didn’t travel to play San Jose. The league recognized Washington was better playing a Boston, and San Jose was better playing a Los Angeles in a shortened season.

• Remember, most games are at night, especially East Coast, and Midwest teams. Comparing NHL with MLB or NFL isn’t a fair comparison for this reason. However, for many markets, when hockey was on, it was a large destination for Men on the radio.

• West Coast always have an advantage because many of their games have earlier start times.

• Pittsburgh is in a league of their own. Virtually all games have 7pm or later face offs. Yet, they still dominate a market like no other team. You’ve got a hat trick here. Strong FM flagship geared to a younger NHL-focused audience (Alternative Rock), successful franchise on the ice, and a fan base rooted in the community for generations.

• Impressive stories can be had for markets like St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Detroit. Notice the trend here? Again, like football and baseball, the Midwest and East Coast are sports meccas.

• When NHL teams are preempted it posses serious issues. Typically teams get bumped for NBA, MLB or NHL. Who they get bumped to makes a world of difference. The Chicago Blackhawks and WGN likely saw this and addressed it by moving conflicts to WLUP-FM, a much strong radio station, one their fans were familiar with. The result – people moved to that station.

• While we haven’t run the data, playoffs make a HUGE difference in estimates. Typically we see the playoffs deliver 2-5x the average season audience. And, unlike the NFL, the audience grows as the playoffs continue.

• The New York Islanders air on a non-commercial, Long Island college radio station.

• Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and St. Louis were the most listened to broadcast of Men 25-54 when those teams were playing in their markets.

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Mark Adams
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