SI Media Analyst Richard Deitsch Talks “Disappointing” NBA Finals, Low NHL Final Ratings

Sports Illustrated Sports Media Analyst Richard Deitsch joined The Afternoon Drive on Tuesday to discuss several sports media topics, including the “bitter disappointment” of the NBA Finals and the extremely low Stanley Cup Final ratings.

Read some excerpts and listen to the whole interview below (starts about the 5:20 mark):

What is ESPN going to do to get people intrigued for Cavs-Warriors Game 3 since it’s already a 2-0 Warriors series lead?

“I think people will still watch Game 3 because there’s a possibility the Cavs can turn things around and make this miraculously a series. What would really help…is if the game is close. From what this could’ve been to what it is now, I think it’s been a bitter disappointment for ESPN. (There was some great storylines entering the series), and the first two games have killed all momentum. But it’s still only 2-0. So far the story is what could’ve been?”

On the NHL Final’s low ratings and what NBC can do to attract viewers in the future:

“There’s not much you can do. The series is what it is. Pittsburgh is a terrific NHL team…but it’s not two big markets going against eachother. And it’s a very tough sell for markets outside of San Jose, Pittsburgh and the die-hard hockey fans. This is a hockey issue. The sport is not marketed the way the NBA is. Hockey traditionally is market as city vs. city, rivalry vs. rivalry, as opposed to individual star ‘X’ vs. individual star ‘Y.’ The NHL has to hope the series gets to a Game 7 (because ratings will rebound then).  Other than that, there’s not much the league can do. There is zero interest in the San Jose Sharks (in New York City). That’s why NBC will always privately root (for the bigger market teams).”

On why NHL Final ratings consistently rank behind the other sports:

“I think (the NHL and its fans) have to change the framework of their thoughts. It’s just never going to be a ‘big four’ sports at least in terms of television.  It doesn’t have enough of a base to compete with those guys. If I was the NHL, I would make the product has great as it can be…I would try to bring more younger people under the tent…and I would try to keep my seven million or eight million people that watch the Stanley Cup Final every year….keep that audience and make sure they’re happy with that product. You’ll still make money (and stay relevant in the American sports landscape). But, to me, the notion that you’re a big four sports just isn’t realistic…”

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