According to Wikipedia, the National Hockey League was the least watched of the “Big Four” in 2017, averaging an attendance of only 17,422 people. The Canadian Football League and Major League Soccer even averaged more people at 24,644 and 22,112, respectively.
This obviously extends to college sports as Division I hockey is one of the least watched college sports alongside baseball. This is in part due to the fact that most games aren’t regularly on TV, and if they are, they are locked behind a paywall.
It seems the only ways to watch college hockey are by either paying for ESPN+ or watching a student-made livestream on the college’s website, which many people don’t want to do.
I know that one of the reasons it was hard for me to get into college hockey at first is because even with the ESPN+ streams, it lacked the high-quality and exciting feel that can be found in a basketball or football broadcast.
One wonders why the NCAA seemingly has no plan to actually promote their hockey and baseball competitions, especially since they have the potential to gain a large audience. Once properly exposed, the same people that watch college football and basketball could become loyal viewers.
College hockey is also arguably the most intriguing of the college leagues, since it is the only Division I sport that is comprised mostly of smaller market universities looking to prove themselves as the best hockey program.
Ferris is one of these universities and was actually in the National Championship game in 2012. One of the dominating schools in recent years has been Minnesota-Duluth, who won three out of four championship games in the 2010s. This is important to the sport since hockey is the school’s only Division I sport.
The organization itself could stand to lose some money advertising some of their smaller sports. Plus, it would benefit states like Michigan and Minnesota, whose small markets are at the forefront of Division I hockey. Not to mention, the influx of expansion schools that could come from it, which is already something NCAA hockey is interested in.
Overall, I feel that it would be beneficial to fans, players and the league if they were to give hockey a chance and actually promote it rather than neglect it, which has been the standard for over 50 years.