Why the NHL Wishes the Chicago Blackhawks Made it to the Stanley Cup Finals

The National Hockey League was probably hoping for a Stanley Cup final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers. The Blackhawks' dedicated fans likely would have driven the finals to an all-time ratings high.

That doesn't mean that actual Western Conference champion the Los Angeles Kings are a bad second option. They're are a strong team that took home the Stanley Cup in 2012, and it gives the NHL a battle between the top two U.S. television markets. This matchup should be great for the NHL ... just not as good as it might have been had Chicago pulled out game seven over L.A.

Why would Chicago have been a better choice?

Chicago is the third-largest U.S. television market, the Blackhawks are an Original Six team, and they boast a large, enthusiastic fan base that gladly spends on tickets, merchandise, and chances to spend time with their favorite team. If they can't make it to the games, they're watching on TV.

The highest-rated NHL game ever broadcast on Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) NBC Sports Network was game seven of the Chicago-L.A. series, with a 3.17 national rating and an astounding 22.7 Chicago rating. This game broke the previous ratings record of 3.10, also set by the Chicago Blackhawks when they faced the Boston Bruins in game three of the 2013 Stanley Cup final. 

Although the Chicago Blackhawks didn't even come close to the highest-ranked Fiscal Cup champions, their popularity likely would have driven higher ratings than Kings vs. Rangers.

How does this hurt?

Ad sales for this year's Stanley Cup finals have already been made, so the revenue stream is set for this year. It's down the road that took a hit.

"Because of lower likely ratings than if Chicago had made it [to the finals], [NBC] will not be able to charge as much for 30-[second] commercials to advertisers," Dr. Patrick Rishe told the Fool in an email.

Rishe, a sports business professor with a Ph.D. in economics, said that ad rates for the 2015 Finals would most likely be lower by "10%-15% of what they could get next year had Chicago make it."

The Kings are growing

In contrast to the 22.7 television rating the Chicago-L.A. game seven pulled in the Windy City, the L.A. market measured only a 4.8 rating. This is considerably higher than the 2.9 game five, the deciding game of the 2013 Kings-Blackhawks Western Conference finals, earned last year. These numbers are promising with regards to future increases in ratings and ticket sales.

In the first full season since the team won the Cup, L.A. had the second-largest increase on the fan-cost index as well as in ticket prices, according to Despite the increase in ticket prices, the Kings had only the 13th-highest prices in the league with an average ticket cost of only $0.35 more than the league average.

In a call to the Kings ticket sales office, the Fool was told that the Kings were expanding the number of season tickets available for the upcoming season. The team's website includes a list of prices for season tickets, with 100-level seats at center ice coming in at $5,396.50 per ticket. By contrast, the Blackhawks' platinum-level season tickets (their highest level, concurrent with the Kings' tickets quoted) come in at just over $18,000.

It could have been worse

Despite the hit to the NBC bottom line with the drop in ad rates, it's not all bad news. L.A. fans might be fewer in number than Chicago fans, but their numbers are growing. An exciting Stanley Cup finals could help hockey grow in L.A. giving the NHL more fans in the number two TV market.

Chicago versus New York may have been a dream matchup that would have produced a one-year ratings boon. Los Angeles versus New York may actually be better in the long run for the league since it has the potential to put the Kings on the path to be as strong a franchise as their Windy City rivals.

Will this stock be your next multi-bagger?

Give us five minutes and we'll show how you could own the best stock for 2014. Every year, The Motley Fool's chief investment officer hand-picks one stock with outstanding potential. But it's not just any run-of-the-mill company. It's a stock perfectly positioned to cash in on one of the upcoming year's most lucrative trends. Last year his pick skyrocketed 134%. And previous top picks have gained upwards of 908%, 1,252% and 1,303% over the subsequent years! Believe me, you don't want to miss what could be his biggest winner yet! Just click here to download your free copy of "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014" today.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2985539, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/29/2015 1:10:24 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Kate Cimini

Kate Cimini is a writer, editor, Spanish-speaker and rabid hockey fan. Her work can be seen on sites such as SportsMockery, LightsTheLamp and Feministing, as well as in publications such as the Hartford Courant and Hartford Women Magazine. She resides in Connecticut. You can catch her on twitter @lightsthelamp where she mostly talks hockey and feminism with the occasional business thrown in there.

Today's Market

updated 15 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
NASD 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

8/28/2015 4:00 PM
CMCSA $56.78 Up +0.01 +0.02%
Comcast Corp CAPS Rating: ***