One of the better stories in New York Sports, the 2018-2019 New York Islanders, is going untalked about. Really, it’s no surprise.
The last few days, I’ve heard a recurring theme on Twitter talking about the New York Islanders radio coverage. The Isles are one of the hottest teams in the NHL and are one of the best storylines in sports this year.
After losing their best player in free agency, something that rarely ever happens in the athletes prime, everyone including myself wrote off the Islanders. Now, they have a five-point lead in the Metropolitan Division.
It’s truly remarkable considering the circumstances. Yet, sports talk radio has been very quiet when it comes to the New York Islanders, and Isles fans are starting to take offense.
While I too would love to hear some more Islanders talk on the radio, is anyone really surprised? I mean, let’s break this down for a second. On the Boomer and Gio show, the guys always tease Boomer about nobody caring about hockey.
While obviously, we care, and people do care, comparatively to the other sports the general public does not. Last year, Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final averaged a TAD of 5.161 million viewers while Game 2 of the NBA Finals averaged 18.496 million viewers.
Don’t even try to compare it to the NFL, who’s awfully boring Super Bowl just yielded 98.2 million viewers. The NHL doesn’t get as good ratings on TV, and the same goes for talk radio.
A few years ago, I met the Program Director of WFAN, Mark Chernoff, and asked if he thought the station could use more hockey talk since they were the radio home of the Devils and that the Islanders had just traded for Thomas Vanek.
Five years ago, his answer was essentially “not enough people care in the regular season”. In the playoffs, they cover it a bit more, but regular season hockey doesn’t do well. It’s the sad truth. Sure, you will occasionally hear Boomer Esiason, Don LaGreca, Alan Haan, Chris Moore, and Rick DiPietro talk hockey but it won’t be with any consistency.
On social media, the Islanders lack behind the other teams in terms of a fanbase. They have 509 thousand followers. The Jets, Giants, Yankees, Mets, Knicks, and even the Rangers have over 1 million followers.
The fanbase is small. Passionate and great, but comparatively small. It’s not a knock on Islanders fans, I am one and have loved the community vibe that we’ve gotten on here but when you look at the other teams, it’s not nearly the same.
Hockey is very niche programming, that’s why the podcasts do so well. Between us, Isles Seat, Islanders Anxiety, Isles Faithful, and many more great shows do a great job covering the team from the fan perspective.
In April and May, we’ll get more hockey talk on the radio but for now, pop on your favorite Islanders podcast and enjoy it.