Hockey Night in Canada: Chemistry improving in second year of Rogers broadcast

Hockey Night in Canada: Chemistry improving in second year of Rogers broadcast
Number of Canadians embracing Rogers broadcast has almost doubled over last year, but still in minority

December 12, 2015With the second season of Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) with George Stromboulopoulos in the host’s seat nearly a third of the way over, viewers are getting more used to the current format, but still say they want to see more of former host Ron MacLean.

Canadians who watch the show – especially those in the coveted 18-34 age-group – see improved chemistry on the broadcast team. That said, many diehard fans say they still miss the old CBC broadcast.

These new findings from a poll by the Angus Reid Institute are largely consistent with what ARI found shortly after the switch from CBC to Rogers in November 2014, suggesting that – for many hockey fans – adjusting to the new HNIC is taking some time.Angus Reid Institute

Key Findings:

  • Hockey’s place in Canadian culture appears to be secure. Nearly one-in-four Canadians (23%) say hockey “defines Canadian culture,” while another two-thirds (65%) say it’s “an important part” of the culture
  • Opinion of the Rogers broadcast is improving in at least one key measure: Twice as many HNIC viewers now say the hosts “are clicking together really well,” as said so in 2014
  • Fewer than one-quarter (24%) of HNIC viewers say they “don’t miss the CBC broadcast at all,” while 37 per cent say they miss it “a lot.” About the same number (39%) say they still miss the CBC, but are getting used to the new format
  • Most (55%) say George Stroumboulopoulos knows enough about hockey to do a good job as host, but self-proclaimed “die-hard fans” are more likely to take the opposite view (52% say he doesn’t)
  • Younger viewers tend to have more favourable views of the show and its hosts than other age groups, though they’re still more likely to miss the CBC than to embrace Rogers.

 Hockey and Canadian identity:

The survey results appear to re-affirm the importance of hockey to Canadian culture and identity. Nearly one-quarter (23%) say the sport “defines Canadian culture,” and another two-thirds (65%) say it is an “important part of Canadian culture,” alongside other things.

Angus Reid Institute

Hockey Night in Canada: On-air chemistry improving

Given the strong reactions by viewers to the broadcast in its earliest days at the beginning of last season, the Angus Reid Institute felt it responsible to canvass opinion again a year later, once hockey watchers had sufficient time to adjust to what has been a major change in broadcast format.

Among the 46 per cent of Canadians who say they’ve watched at least one NHL game this season, assessments of HNIC in its second year since switching from the CBC to Rogers Communications are a mixed bag.

On a positive note for the show, more than twice as many viewers say the hosts “are clicking together really well” in 2015 as said so last year (20% in 2015, compared to 8% in 2014), while almost half as many say “they have no chemistry” (15% in 2015, compared to 27% in 2014).

Angus Reid Institute

Self-proclaimed “diehard” fans are especially likely to think highly of the on-air chemistry this season – fully one-third (34%) of this group says the hosts are clicking well.

Younger viewers (those ages 18 – 34) are also more likely to say the chemistry is good (some 32% do so, including 34% of young men), and less likely to say the hosts have no chemistry (just 8% do so).

Most rate show on par with last year

Although HNIC viewers see the chemistry between the show’s hosts headed in the right direction, they’re twice as likely to say they like the show itself less this season (23%) as they are to say they like it more (10%).

The vast majority sees the show as unchanged from last season to this one, with 45 per cent saying they don’t have a preference either way, and another one-in-five (21%) saying they haven’t noticed a difference, year over year.

As might be expected, this ambivalence is strongest among those viewers who say “other interests come before hockey,” while diehard fans are more likely to have an opinion – either positive or negative – as seen in the following graph:

Angus Reid Institute

The Hosts:

This survey also asked HNIC viewers to consider the on-air personalities individually, and say whether they’d like to see more or less of each one.

Excluding those who say they they’re unsure and comparing only respondents who have an opinion on the question, it becomes clear that opinion is more varied on the main hosts, while most viewers think the secondary personalities are on for the right amount of time (as seen in the following graph).

HNIC1

To facilitate comparisons, ARI created a “momentum score” for each host by subtracting the percentage of respondents who say they’d like to see less of a given host from the percentage who say they’d like to see more. As the following graph indicates, former lead host Ron MacLean remains popular across all levels of fandom:

HNIC2

Viewers who consider themselves diehard fans have more favourable opinions than other viewers about most of the on-air personalities on HNIC. The notable exceptions are Stromboulopoulos and Kypreos, both of whom joined the broadcast after the switch from CBC to Rogers, a finding that may be correlated with the fact that diehard fans are most likely to say they miss the old CBC-produced broadcast (this will be discussed further later in the release).

Other findings related to HNIC on-air personalities follow.

Ron MacLean:

Angus Reid Hockey Infographic

Click to Enlarge

Opinions about MacLean are consistent with last year’s survey, where 48 per cent said they were seeing too little  of him under the new format, and three-quarters (74%) said his reduced role was “hurting the show”.

In this 2015 survey:

  • 48 per cent say they would like to see more of him, including two-thirds (65%) of diehard fans and most viewers over age 35 (51% of those 35 – 54 and 57% of those over 55)
  • Younger viewers are less keen on more MacLean (34% say they would like to see more of him), but that’s not because they want to see less of him (only 5% do). Rather, these younger viewers either aren’t sure who he is (12%) or don’t know how they feel (20%)

George Stromboulopoulos:

Last year, two-in-five (39%) said he was a credible replacement for MacLean, and roughly the same number (41%) of respondents said he was receiving too much airtime. Fewer than one-in-ten (8%) said they were seeing too little of him, while fully half (50%) said he was on for the right amount of time.

This year:

  • One-third (33%) of viewers say “Strombo” is on for the right amount of time. Most would either like to see more (15%) or less of him (33%).
  • Casual viewers are considerably less opposed to the new host. Roughly one-in-six (17%) say they’d like to see less of him, compared to 36 per cent of fans and 44 per cent of diehards who say the same. He’s also better liked in Quebec (where only 11% say they’d like to see less of him) and among younger viewers (23% of those ages 18 – 34 would like to see less of him, compared to 35% of the 35 – 54 and 38% of the over 55 age groups).

On a separate question, a majority (55%) of HNIC viewers say Strombo “has enough hockey knowledge to do the job well,” compared to 45% who say he “doesn’t know enough to satisfy the most diehard fans,” when asked to choose between these two statements. As might be expected, self-identified diehards are more likely to take the opposite view:

Angus Reid Institute

Don Cherry:

Last year, Canadians were split on the amount of airtime afforded to the long-time Coach’s Corner host (38% said he was on air for the right amount of time, while 36% said they were seeing too little of him and 26% said they were seeing too much). This year, he remains polarizing:

  • Overall, roughly one-third (35%) say Cherry is on for the right amount of time, while another third (33%) would like to see more of him and one-quarter (25%) would like to see less.
  • Cherry is well-loved in Ontario and on the Prairies (43% in each region would like to see more of him), but disliked in Quebec (where 46% would like to see less of him).
  • He’s also more popular among older Canadians (39% of the 35 – 54 age group and 35% of those over 55 want to see more of him) and diehard fans (40% want to see more of him).

Elliotte Friedman:

A long-time HNIC reporter, Friedman draws a significant amount of uncertainty from viewers. Fully one-in-five (21%) say they’re not sure who he is.

Those who do are largely inclined to say he’s on for the right amount of time (37% do so), while slightly more than one-in-ten say they’d like to see either more (13%) or less (12%) of him.

Friedman is quite popular with diehards, however. Among this group, the proportion who would like to see more of him rises to three-in-ten (30%).

Nick Kypreos:

A Sportsnet analyst and former player, Kypreos joined HNIC after Rogers acquired the rights to it last year. Viewers’ opinions of him are quite similar to their opinions of Friedman in terms of uncertainty (19% aren’t sure who Kypreos is) and the number who say they’re seeing the right amount of him (37%).

Fewer than one-in-ten (9%) say they’d like to see more of him, while twice as many (18%) say they’d like to see less.

CBC Nostalgia: Most miss the old format at least a little bit

When ARI asked viewers how they felt about the new, Rogers-produced version of HNIC last year, nearly half (45%) said they liked the old CBC version better, while just one-in-seven (14%) said they liked the new version better.

Now, a year later, the number who have moved on from the CBC version of the show has nearly doubled. In this 2015 survey, one-in-four (24%) say they “don’t miss the CBC broadcast at all.”

Of course, this means that three-quarters (76%) say they still miss the CBC at least a little bit. Among this group are 37 per cent who say they miss it “a lot,” and 39 per cent who say they still miss it, but are “getting used to the new format.”

Diehard fans are especially fond of the now-defunct CBC-produced version of HNIC:

Angus Reid Institute

Other groups that are particularly likely to say they miss the CBC version of HNIC “a lot” include Ontario residents (44%) and those between the ages of 35 and 54 (42%).

In contrast. Quebec residents (34%) and British Columbians (30%) are most likely to have moved on and say they don’t miss the CBC broadcast “at all.”

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Click here for comprehensive data tables

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

MEDIA CONTACT: Shachi Kurl, Senior Vice President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org

Image Credit: Evan Mitsui


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