How does this compare to the NBA? Those pretty much compete head on.
Not sure if they compete head-on too much.
Hockey audiences are very local, and the NBA has a more national audience, and just an overwhelmingly bigger audiece in total in the US. Last year in Chicago you could not go into a bar during the NHL playoffs and not get wrapped up in televised Blackhawks games. Wrigleyville erupted, with people flooding onto Clark Street, the second the winning goal was scored. The whole city was a hockey town....for about six weeks.
Same time one year later, good luck finding a bar showing hockey. I walked down Clark last night from the iO to Roscoe, and every bar I passed had the Cubs game on. Not sure I noticed more than one or two TVs showing hockey. But during the NBA Finals, even during Cubs games, every bar on Clark Street was packed with people watching and cheering a basketball team from Dallas.