The Canadian Press recently reported that NBC is using the ratings for the current Sunday hockey broadcasts to determine if they wish to continue regular hockey coverage in the future.
Wonder what the ratings were yesterday? Apparently, NBC has forgotten that they used to cover the Daytona 500. Of course, in 2005 when the race left NBC and went elsewhere the ratings immediately shot up 3% to achieve a whopping 10.9 rating. In fact, since 1995, the Daytona 500 has consistently outdrawn all other races and a couple times has even pulled in as many viewers as the World Series. Yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of this race so one expects the ratings numbers will be stratospheric.
If I know this, why doesn't NBC? Why would they press on regardless and schedule the hockey game to START at the same time as the START of Daytona? Originally, before NBC decided to pick up the game, it was scheduled for a 1PM EST start. Did they really think that a battle of two number one teams in their divisions (Wings-Stars) was going to attract anybody other than died-in-the-wool hockey fans, against Daytona? Get real.
I sincerely doubt the so-called "casual viewer" made the choice for hockey over NASCAR, especially if they live in the South, where NASCAR is a religion and hockey is well..."ice" hockey. Further, the Wings are struggling with the loss of two key defensemen and the team is (temporarily!) in a general funk. Unfortunately, the "casual viewer" doesn't understand the game well enough to be entertained by a low offense/high defense game that isn't decided till the third period, 1-0. Especially when there is live action a few clicks away at Daytona.
It will be interesting to see how NBC spins these low ratings into a validation of not carrying hockey games anymore. But, maybe that is the plan.