The New York Daily News’ ever dilligent Gallagher doppelganger, Bob Raissman argues “in terms of ratings, local baseball is not just beating series featuring the Rangers, Devils and Islanders, it is destroying these playoff matchups.”
This is not a grand revelation, but serves as a reality check. Especially at a time when there is much delusional chatter (much of it coming from the mouths of MSG’s hockey voices) designed to create an illusion that the Rangers are on the verge of being a significant player on the city’s sports landscape.
NHL suits are spinning the playoff presence of the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders as a hockey revival. The sermon is falling on deaf ears, even with the key component of this puck troika – the Rangers – completing a first-round sweep.
Still, there is a theory going something like this: The deeper the Rangers, perceived as having national marquee value, go in the playoffs, the more fans, most of them casual NHL viewers, will hop on the bandwagon.
Look what went down Wednesday night. By the third inning in the Bronx, the Yankees (on YES) had jumped out to a 6-2 lead over Cleveland. At the end of one inning in Miami, the Mets (on SNY) were already up 4-0 on the Marlins. Both the Yankees and Mets eventually scored 9-2 victories. On MSG, the Rangers, looking to sweep Atlanta, were involved in a game that was tied 2-2 at the end of two periods.
Baseball held a good portion of its audience. Mets-Marlins did a 2.1 rating and Indians-Yankees a 4.1. Thrashers-Rangers did a 1.7. Few curiosity-seekers bailed out of baseball blowouts, or other entertainment programming, to sample playoff hockey. At least the Rangers did better than Sabres-Islanders (FSNY, 0.8) and Devils-Lightning (FSNY2, 0.4).
There is no doubt local playoff hockey has produced compelling moments. Hey, I’m one of the few people watching and – as on Wednesday – trying to flip from game to game. Yet, the Yankees’ and Mets’ TV dominance again refocuses attention on the biggest blunder (yeah, bigger than hiring Larry Brown or extending Isiah Thomas’ contract) in Cablevision’s Garden reign of error.
That was losing Yankees and Mets TV rights. Obviously James Dolan and Charles (Man From Monopoly) Dolan’s unwillingness to pay the price to keep one or both teams opened the door for the birth of YES and SNY while severely devaluing the MSG Network.
Rangers playoff ratings being doubled and tripled by the Yankees and Mets again proves that.