My favorite mogul, Ted Leonsis wrote an essay today in response to an article stating that this was the make or break year for the NHL. Leonsis touches on the issue of national television ratings:
However, I am unsure that any sports' TV ratings will increase over time as TV viewing as a whole with key demographics is waning and many other sports TV ratings are challenged over time as well.
We certainly agree with Ted, and all the data supports this. While things have leveled off nicely for the NFL, even our beloved football doesn't rate as highly as it once did as you can see below.
In light of this, Leonsis outlines what he believes should be the NHL's focus:
Our focus as a league needs to be on developing an integrated media platform strategy. We must use television (cable, broadcast and local rights) AND the new media (broadband web, satellite radio, mobile, video and multi-user games) to create more interest and generate more revenues for the league and at the same time make our sport ubiquitous to the new generation of sports fans. Local TV ratings are strong and growing and our local rights are highly valued by cable partners.
-Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals NHL franchise
If you want to get inside the mind of a sports franchise owner, I recommend reading the whole essay, as well as others that Leonsis has written.