February 10, 2021

Report: Stanley Cup Final TV ratings down 61% on 2019

The sport industry website reports that the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-2 series win over the Dallas Stars averaged 2.15 million viewers across the six matches on US network NBC, representing a 61 per cent drop on last year’s seven-game final series between the St Louis Blues and Boston Bruins.

I will take the suspense out of the blog. The answer is yes.

A year ago this month, the pandemic began shutting down all professional and college sports in the US. A majority of the country, including yours truly realized the impact of the pandemic only following the loss of professional sports on TV.

Although the NBA and NHL eventually returned to a bubble and the rest of the sports, both professional and college, figured out a way to get things going. The sports world is still struggling to attract the consumer base it has been used to all these years.

The ratings of some of the biggest sporting events over the last six months have shown that our expectation of return to TV sports viewership is grossly overestimated. Compared with previous year, ratings were down 51 percent for NBA finals, 61% for NHL finals and 45% for Tennis U.S. Open. Even Kentucky Derby, the premier sports TV event, dropped 49% from the previous year. This year was the Derby’s lowest audience ever. Even the Superbowl, with the best possible storyline in two quarterbacks, passing the baton so to speak had its lowest TV viewership in 15 years.

There are many reasons why Americans haven’t returned to watching live sports, even though video consumption overall has increased during the pandemic. More importantly, besides the reasons for this drop in viewership, how can brands still continue to leverage sports events for brand messaging.

Netra has delivered a solution to work through this exact situation. Netra’s API can detect and deliver the most exciting moments in a game, in real time. With the baseball season about to begin, during the three hour long game, when a National Car Rental banner gets highlighted behind the batter just when the batter hits a homerun, the value of that moment is much more. As compared to the 20 mins. when the pitcher is deciding which pitch to throw. Through detection of such moments Netra can highlight the value of brand sponsorship that helps brands better allocate their sponsorship budgets.

In addition, Netra is also working with sports broadcasters to automate creation of highlights, by exploring the exciting moments in real time during live streams that can be played on repeat and help drive value for sponsors.

With this double pronged approach, measurement and automation in content creation, Netra is able to deliver more value for the same sports events with reduced viewership. And although we cannot directly solve the challenge of increasing viewership, the events themselves need to do this, Netra is helping get more value from the same content making the dropping live sports viewership a winning proposition after all

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