The NY Islanders vs. NY Rangers Stadium Series game was a massive ratings success

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Who says nobody cares about hockey?

If you thought the novelty of playing outdoor games had worn off, the Stadium Series game between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers at MetLife Stadium proved you wrong in a few ways.

First, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets was packed with nearly 80,000 cold but boisterous fans, who, unlike during football season, were inclined to stay until the very end of the game. Second, a lot of people were home watching it around the metro area as well.

According to media columnist Neil Best in Newsday, ESPN reported that the game averaged 1.57 million viewers on ABC, making it the most-viewed regular-season game since ESPN re-acquired rights to NHL games for the 2021-22 season.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the game averaged 559,000 viewers in the New York metro-area market alone, the most for any regular season game on any network since 2014. I suppose that dispels the notion that the only people who watch hockey are the ones going to the game.

While Islanders fans wish so many people weren't watching their team blow a multi-goal lead in the final minutes, the two teams put on a wildly entertaining game in a spectacular outdoor environment. It's the type of game that could bring novice fans back to watch more during the season.

On Monday morning sports talks, there were the usual calls of how wonderful a game hockey is, but for whatever reason it fails to compete for eyeballs and interests with the NBA or MLB. The rationale provided was the usual, it's too expensive to play, the players aren't marketable, etc. By Tuesday and Wednesday, it was back to monotonous conversation about pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training and Pete Alonso's contract status.

It's ok if a majority of sports fans still don't get why we love hockey, but scenes like the ones on Sunday undoubtedly help elevate a few more to future die-hard status.