The economy sucks, as you know, but sports leagues are prospering.
Attendance figures in MLB, the NHL and the NBA are all up while their television ratings have increased significantly.
Viewership for NBA playoff games has risen a whopping 28 per cent from last season. Interest is so high for the league’s championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics that ABC is charging an NBA record $400,000 U.S. for 30-second commercials – and there’s a full waiting list of companies wishing to become sponsors.
And, despite a publicized opinion from golfer Tiger Woods that “no one watches hockey any more,” the NHL’s Stanley Cup games between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins have drawn markedly improved ratings.
“Watching sports on TV has become a popular pastime again,” said Ed Erhardt, chief of marketing and sales for ABC and ESPN. “It could be directly related to the economy. It’s clearly a lot cheaper to stay home and watch sports on TV than to go out for other forms of entertainment.”
•Speaking of ESPN, there are rumblings that Torontonian Hazel Mae may be en route to the network now that her four-year stint at NESN has ended.
Mae, who’s nearing 40, got herself in a bit of hot water at the New England network after suggesting in public that she would quit if management forbade her from dating sports figures, something she did frequently while anchoring at NESN and, previously, at Rogers Sportsnet.
• And, despite Tiger’s hockey-apathy theory, ex-baseball superstar George Brett, part-owner of the junior-hockey franchise in Spokane, Wash., is so certain that the NHL would sell well in Kansas City that he has let it be known he’s eager to become an investor should the NHL ever expand to the city, which it has been contemplating. . , I wonder what Tiger thinks of the Big Daddy Driver. Actually, I don’t care. Just check out www.bigdaddydriver.com for a cool Father’s Day gift. . .I think Jose Canseco’s losing it. The ex-slugger has challenged Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling to a celebrity-boxing match. Why? Canseco thinks Schilling is a snitch and a phony, and claims the bloody sock that helped make him famous was actually smeared with ketchup. . .The real reason the Toronto Argonauts recently dealt kicker Noel Prefontaine to the Edmonton Eskimos: He told them he would no longer be able to play hard because of his concussion history. . .And did you know that road teams in the NHL have won 10 of the past 12 overtime games in the Stanley Cup series and are 15-4 since 1990?