Three years ago, Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Dufresne ranked the Kings as the 10th most popular team in L.A., behind even a team that plays almost 400 miles away, the Oakland Raiders.
"That was then, this is now," Dufresne said Monday in an e-mail.
Hockey will never be as loved as football, basketball, or baseball here, but the Kings long-term value is improving, says Forbes’ Executive Editor Michael Ozanian.
“You have to look at the Kings not just for the extra, let's say, three million in profit they get per home playoff game, but now when people think about the Kings today as opposed to five years ago they’re thinking about a Stanley Cup Champion,” Ozanian said.
Forbes estimates the team is worth $450 million, which makes them only the tenth most valuable NHL franchise. Smaller markets like Toronto (worth $1.1 billion) and Pittsburg (worth $480 million) do better because more people there watch hockey.
The Kings have some of the worst local television ratings in the NHL. But luckily for them, there’s only so much sports programming to go around and seven regional sports networks to bid for programming, so it's a seller's market; The Kings signed a deal valued at $250 million two years ago with Fox Sports.
"But I don't think that's the most important thing for AEG," Ozanian said, referring to the massive sports and entertainment conglomerate, Anschutz Entertainment Group, that owns the team. “This fits in with the Staples Center, which Philip Anschutz also owns. It fits in with LA Live. The whole is much more valuable than the some of the parts.”
Which is why, Ozanian says, Anshutz put all of AEG up for sale two years ago, rather than splitting up the company. (He took it off the market last year, saying the right buyer had not come forward)