The NHL is the latest major U.S. sports property to recognize a growing problem with its midseason All-Star Game — and the league is doing something about it.
Closely following the NFL’s move to create the Pro Bowl Games and the NBA’s shift back to a traditional, conference-based All-Star Game, the NHL is scrapping the division-based All-Star format it has used since 2016.
In its place will be a player-led draft system previously used in 2011-12 and 2015.
Notably, this player-based structure is very similar to what the NBA is now jettisoning. But in each instance, the leagues are looking to find a competitive format for midseason showcases that restores some lost excitement — and boosts broadly declining viewership.
The NHL actually saw a 31% increase in its All-Star Game viewership on ESPN last season, but the game’s average audience of nearly 1.5 million viewers was still down by more than a third compared to 2017.
The new format for the 2024 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto is also part of a newly enlarged, three-day event weekend, one that will also include a 3-on-3 showcase of players from the newly formed PWHL, which the NHL is supporting.
“We had to make it bigger and better,” said NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer to the Canadian Press. “We always had thoughts about doing other events.”
The 2024 NHL All-Star weekend is set for Feb. 1-3.