Flyers Even Series in Battle of Big Markets

The Flyers Wayne Simmonds (pictured) scored a great goal Sunday to wrap up a 1-1 series tie against the Rangers. The series has just an 8% chance of producing the eventual champion, but has the top remaining NHL market share (27%) so was featured as the first of two games by NBC Sunday (see table of all media markets and chances of winning Cup below). 

The second game was the reverse, with Boston-Detroit having the best chance of the eight series of producing the eventual champion (24%) but one of the worst combined market shares (6%). The NHL's regular season outdoor classic draws about twice the viewers of the top regular season basketball game, but playoff viewership lags behind college football and basketball and the other three major sports.

Toronto's failure to make the playoffs was a blow, as the Maple Leafs have an even bigger market than Philadelphia and more rapid fans. However, all of the other key NHL markets are represented including the big two. The Rangers are holding down the New York market (20%), while both Los Angeles and Anaheim have the Los Angeles market (17%) that is so big the Edmonton Oilers once had to trade Wayne Gretsky there for the good of the league.

While certainly the Bruins and Red Wings have fans beyond their media markets, the NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball all benefit from three things; star players, major market teams advancing in playoffs and 7-game series.

The Rangers and Flyers were only the 12th and 13th best teams in the league this year, and Vegas gave both a 4% chance of taking the Stanley Cup. While the Flyers play in the fifth biggest US/Canada market behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto, it is still only about 1/3rd the size of the New York market.  

The Pittsburgh-Columbus series represents the smallest market at 5%, but the biggest star in the Penguins Sidney Crosby.

In the final minute of the game at Madison Square Garden Sunday, the Rangers tried to repeat the Blues feat Saturday in rallying for a game-tying goal in the final minute with the goalie on the bench. The Blackhawks were actually down six skaters to four and could never take advantage of the open net, but the Flyers were actually on a power play to leave it four skaters a piece when Simmonds got the puck on the left side of his defensive end and never gave it back. Simmonds fought through multiple players to get to the right boards still in his defensive end, then turned left and went up to center ice before burying a long shot in the open net to wrap up the 4-2 win. The Flyers now get home ice for Games 3 and 4.

The following table gives the percent of the remaining each market (total adds up to 117% since both Los Angeles and Anaheim have 17% of the total with the Los Angeles market) followed by the percent chance each team had of winning the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the playoffs. The media share percentages are based on an analysis of figures in a Television Bureau of Canada study that can be found here.

NHL 1st Round Match-ups % NHL Playoff Market % chance Champion
Boston 1% 20%
Detroit 5% 4%
Total Both Teams 6% 24%
Anaheim (Los Angeles, LA also still alive) 17% 8%
Dallas (Dallas-Ft. Worth) 7% 1%
Total Both Teams 24% 9%
Colorado 4% 5%
Minnesota (Minn-St. Paul) 5% 2%
Total Both Teams 9% 7%
St. Louis 3% 12%
Chicago 9% 9%
Total Both Teams 12% 21%
San Jose (SF-Oak market) 7% 8%
Los Angeles (Anaheim also still alive) 17% 7%
Total Both Teams 24% 15%
Pittsburgh 3% 10%
Columbus 2% 1%
Total Both Teams 5% 11%
Tampa Bay (TB-St. Pete) 4% 3%
Montreal 5% 4%
Total Both Teams 9% 7%
NY Rangers (NJ, NY Islanders out) 20% 4%
Philadelphia 7% 4%
Total Both Teams 27% 8%

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