Bulls of the week
The NFL continues to run roughshod over the competition on TV and streaming, with CBS and NBC both enjoying their biggest audiences since 2015 and Monday Night Football off to its best seven-week start on TV since 2005.
The NFL product appeal — along with MLB and Premier League soccer — also made it a bullish week for NBC’s Peacock streaming channel, which earned four million new American subscribers last quarter and has seen revenues spike by 64 per cent year-over-year.
Watch for 2024 to be the tipping point year for streaming in North America and around the world and look for Amazon and other streamers to vie to become part of the upcoming round of new NBA TV deals.
Meanwhile, MLB is looking for the two, seven-game league championship series to help set up a well-watched World Series during the only time of the year — for seven to 12 days — in which all five major North American pro sports leagues are playing at the same time.
Texas-Philadelphia would have been the better TV matchup but the Arizona Diamondbacks could create some Cinderella-type interest if they get off to a strong start in the World Series.
Baseball goes into the Fall Classic with a jump of seven per cent in TV audiences this post-season.
Bears of the week
Normally, there would be some good buzz going into the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, this weekend’s outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Yet the typically robust Battle of Alberta vibe has been swallowed up by how poorly the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers have played so far this season.
Going into the Heritage Classic, Calgary and Edmonton are just ahead of the woeful and winless San Jose Sharks at the bottom of the Pacific Division (sixth and seventh, respectively), Western Conference (13th and 15th) and the NHL overall (29th and 31st).
They have combined for a brutal 3-10-2 record.
According to Sportsnet Stats, their combined goal differential is -24.
What’s worse is that the problems are at both ends of the ice. The Oilers and the Flames are averaging just 1.47 even-strength-goals per game and hovering at a .877 save percentage.
It’s not what many observers — this corner included — expected from the two Alberta teams, particularly Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers, my Stanley Cup picks for this season.
Above and beyond the Toilet Bowl tag that’s being handed the Heritage Classic, the slow starts for the Oilers and the Flames aren’t great for TV and radio engagement, merchandise sales, and the overall activation of local and national NHL sponsorships.
In a week in which the NHL wanted the attention on the Heritage Classic outdoor game and Frozen Frenzy — a terrific Tuesday initiative that featured 16 games and all 32 teams playing from 3 to 9 p.m. PT — all that most commentators and fans were talking about were the bearish headlines around pride-themed tape and a stunning 41-game suspension levied against 24-year-old Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto for violating the NHL’s gambling policies.
It was hard to tell which made the NHL look more awkward and diminished; cartoons depicting commissioner Gary Bettman wrapped up in rainbow-coloured pride tape or images of Pinto wearing the Senators’ Betway sports betting promotional decal on his Ottawa team helmet.
Tom Mayenknecht is the host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Vancouver-based sport business commentator and principal in Emblematica Brand Builders provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.
Canucks Game Day: Returning home to face the Blues
Canucks are in a better place this season than same time last year
Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.
You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.