Last Thursday, The New York Times ran
a front-page story detailing the economic toll that the National Hockey League player lockout is taking on
businesses connected to the game. One outfit that might not be exactly pining
for the three-month-old lockout to end: ESPN
gets better ratings with its replacement programming on Wednesdays than the
games got last year. And not just a little better—we're talking
twice as good, from a 0.2 to a 0.4.
“We hope that both sides will soon resolve their issues, and we look
forward to televising NHL action this season,” says an ESPN spokesperson.
“In the interim, we are pleased with how our replacement programming is
doing, especially the World
Series of Poker and college basketball.” ESPN is
contracted to show NHL games this year and has an option for two more seasons.
But you almost hear someone deep inside ESPN parent Disney comparing the numbers for poker vs. hockey and
wondering if it isn't time to call the NHL's bluff.