By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 14, 2013
After striking a ten-year labor deal in January after a lockout-shortened 2013 season, the National Hockey League is off to a fast for the 2014 campaign, and is primed to post its best TV numbers to date. The NHL’s primary cable home, NBCSN, is in 79.1 million homes, up from 78.0 million homes during the same period last year, according to Sports Business Daily. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi await, always a boost to hockey’s casual fan base. And a record number of crowd-pleasing outdoor games are sure to boost the NHL’s viewership and attendance numbers as well.
Hockey now has its first-ever billion-dollar franchise, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the average NHL franchise is worth $282 million, 18% more than a year ago, according to Forbes annual league valuations. The league has enthusiastic new ownership that will help stabilize troubled teams in the warm weather regions of Florida and Arizona, and its new $60 million Industry Growth Fund, an offshoot of the new collective bargaining agreement presents incredible opportunities to level the economic playing field. Maybe the work stoppage was the right move after all.