Monday, June 19, 2017

China Key to Unlocking NHL Olympic Hockey Boycott

For 50 years, the National Hockey League (NHL) has been struggling in vain to break through in the American television (TV) market. When Sidney Crosby won his 3rd Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this month, more Americans watched Celebrity Family Feud than the NHL telecast in the same time slot. The next night, the National Basketball Association won the United States (US) ratings battle with an audience three times larger than the number of NHL viewers.

The Olympics account for the 5 most watched hockey games in US TV history. The NHL has never managed to turn an Olympic hockey buzz into more American viewers. No American audience for a NHL game has come close to the viewership for team USA playing an Olympic final or semi-final.

Disappointed by the impact of past Olympics on NHL ratings, Commissioner Gary Bettman decided that his league had nothing to lose by threatening to boycott the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Bettman demanded free use of the Olympic rings logo in NHL advertising as the price of player participation at the 2018 Games. When International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach rejected Bettman’s condition, the NHL blocked their players from going to the 2018 Olympics.

Bettman and Bach are two alpha males locked in a stand-off. Neither will back down. 

If you are interested in my proposal to solve this impasse before the 2022 Beijing Olympics, contact me at adil.sayeed@utoronto.ca

(How does this post connect to the Ontario economy and the other provinces? Canadians watching Olympic hockey in the middle of the nights and early mornings in February 2018 might have a small impact on productivity. That's the best I've got as an explanation. The sad truth is that I want to get this idea into circulation before it's too late and I couldn't find a better outlet than my own blog.)