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Wings TV Ratings Plunge

Kukla's Korner has a link to a Sports Business Journal article on the NHL's attendance and television numbers. And while the team has a 6.60% increase (fifth best out of 30 teams) in average game attendance to 19,724, they've have had a stunning 21.80% drop in their TV ratings this year compared to last.

Steve Schrader over at the Free Press went to Fox Sports Detroit (the exclusive local broadcaster for Red Wings games) for a comment. Here's what general manager Greg Hammaren told him:

"The Wings are working hard to put more people in the seats, and that's succeeding," he said Monday. "We know that there's deep and sustaining interest in the Wings across Michigan, but we haven't seen it in the TV ratings yet this year."

Two things:

1. Unless the Detroit television audience for Red Wings games last year was 5,601, the first statement is irrelevant.

2. I'm curious what data Mr. Hammaren has that shows this "deep and sustaining interest in the Wings," because I sure don't see it in ancedotal day-to-day conversations, and outside of the Winter Classic, the Wings have hardly been the talk of the sports pages lately.

Here's a better theory: the Red Wings general disregard of anyone not actively giving them money has started to bite them in the rump.

Here are two questions I'd be asking of Mr. Hammaren:

1. What role does an economic environment in which people may be dropping cable altogether have, which results in a fan having access to only four out of 46 games so far (assuming they can get access to CBC)?

2. What role does moving 11% of Red Wings games to FSN Plus, an auxillary channel that is only available on the digital tier of the two largest cable providers in the Detroit area, have?

And my usual question to the Red Wings front office: How's that dumptruck full of money feeling?

P.S. Guess whose TV ratings have gone up the third-highest of the NHL teams? Hint: they're the ones who rediscovered over-the-air television.