TV numbers don't lie

TY PILSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

The NHL doesn't matter in the U.S. Hardly a news flash.

Sure there are regions that embrace the game but, for the most part, hockey ranks slightly higher than underwater basket weaving and below the WNBA and those crazy dogs-leaping-and-retrieving-a-tennis-ball-from-a-pond competitions.

Most folks north of the 49th have known this for years and the debate flared up recently after NBC pulled the plug on Game 5 between the Senators and Sabres to cut for a lengthy Preakness Stakes pre-show.

However, what is new is the horrific TV numbers from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, which were released yesterday. So morbid are they, you can almost see Grissom and his CSI team already launching an investigation.

A measly 523,000 households in the U.S. -- a country of more than 300 million people -- tuned in to watch the Ducks take a 1-0 series lead. That works out to a 0.72 cable rating on the much-maligned Versus network. That rating was down a staggering 19% from last year's Game 1 tilt between the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers.

But there is some good news. In Los Angeles, the cable rating topped the national mark, garnering a record 1.7 rating in the market. That works out to 95,000 households. The population of Los Angeles County is 9,948,081, give or take a few.

The game had dismal ratings in traditional U.S. hockey markets: 0.7 in Chicago, 0.6 in Boston and 0.3 in New York. Things were better in Buffalo (3.9), Denver (2.2) and Pittsburgh (2.0).

In Canada, the game drew 2,608,000 viewers on CBC, which was down 14% from last year, to be fair.

Still, the math don't lie, Mr. Bettman.


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