via press release:
NBC SPORTS GROUP’S COVERAGE OF NHL PLAYOFFS NETS VIEWERSHIP INCREASES
VERSUS’ Quarterfinal Coverage is Best on Cable in 17 Years
NBC Scores Best First Round on Network TV in Seven Years
SportsNets Generate 22 Percent Collective Increase Vs. Last Year with Chicago, Mid-Atlantic & Philadelphia Notching Viewership Records
NEW YORK – April 28, 2011 – The NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Conference Quarterfinal round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs netted viewership milestones across its national and regional platforms. VERSUS’ cable coverage and NBC’s network coverage of the first round were the most-watched in 17 and seven years, respectively. The four Comcast SportsNets who televise their local NHL teams collectively generated a 22 percent increase vs. last year with Chicago, Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia posting viewership records.
Coverage of the Conference Quarterfinals, which averaged 624,000 viewers, was the most-watched ever on VERSUS, up eight percent from last year’s first round (595,000) and the most-watched on cable in 17 years. It was also the most-watched Quarterfinals for key male demos in eight years, including the best among Men 18-49 in a decade (2001).
Game 6 of the Vancouver-Chicago series (1.16 million viewers) was the most-watched complete Conference Quarterfinal game ever on VERSUS among average viewers, Men 18-49 and Men 25-54; surpassing last year’s Mon-Was Game 7 (4/28/10) with 1.15 million viewers.
It was also the most-watched NHL Quarterfinal game on cable in eight years (Col-Min, Game 7 on ESPN, 1.24 million viewers, 4/22/03).
Last night’s joined-in-progress Game 7 between Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh averaged 1.5 million viewers for the third period.
NBC’s Conference Quarterfinal coverage was the most-watched network coverage for the NHL’s first round in seven years.
NBC’s four games over two weekends averaged 1.9 million viewers, the most since ABC aired two total games averaging 2.0 million viewers in 2004 and up 12 percent from last year’s coverage (1.7 million).
The Philadelphia Flyers’ Game 6 win over the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on NBC this past Sunday was watched by 2.57 million viewers, making it the most-watched NHL non-Conference Final game in 12 years.
The viewership for the second weekend of games was also the best in seven years. The two games this past Saturday and Sunday averaged 2.1 million viewers, the most since one game in 2004 on ABC (2.2 million) and up 24 percent from last year (1.7 million).
Comcast Sports Group’s regional networks are home to four NHL franchises: the Blackhawks (Comcast SportsNet Chicago), Capitals (Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic), Flyers (Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia) and Sharks (Comcast SportsNet California). All four teams competed in the first round of the playoffs. Highlights include:
During the first round, Comcast Sports Group’s aggregate average NHL playoff audience was 800,987 households, up 22% from last season.
The three highest-rated Blackhawks games in Comcast SportsNet Chicago history, peaking with game seven, which rated a 13.33 locally (467,000 households), peaking at 18.35 (643,000 households).
The Capitals first-round series against the Rangers became the highest-rated Capitals playoff series in Comcast SportsNet history, averaging 5.72 in the DC DMA (and a 2.57 Baltimore DMA average) for a combined average local audience of 165,000 households. The series also included the second-highest rated Caps game in Comcast SportsNet history.
The highest-rated Flyers game in Comcast SportsNet history (Game 7), delivered a 12.6 average rating (383,000 households) and peaked at 14.7 (446,000 households).
The NBC Sports Group’s first-round playoff viewership increases continue the momentum generated during the NHL’s 2010-11 regular season.
NBC’s regular-season coverage of 11 games was up four percent vs. 2010’s coverage of 10 games (1.62 million viewers vs. 1.56 million). It was highlighted by the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic — broadcast on New Year’s Day in primetime due to a weather delay — which became the most-watched Winter Classic ever with 4.5 million viewers, was up 22 percent vs. last year’s game and was the most-watched NHL regular-season game in 36 years.
VERSUS’ 2010-11 regular-season viewership was the network’s best ever (353,000 average viewers) and up 18 percent over last season. Average viewership for exclusive NHL telecasts increased 41 percent (425,000 average viewers vs. 302,000) since VERSUS became a member of the NBC Sports Group in late January when the transaction between Comcast and NBCUniversal was complete.
Comcast SportsNet’s four NHL teams delivered average ratings growth of 1.5% over the previous season. Highlights include:
Comcast SportsNet posted the highest Blackhawks final regular-season TV ratings average in Comcast SportsNet history — a 2.78 final household season average (approx. 97,372 households watching per game) — a 14% increase over last season’s 2.44 final average — a 121% increase from the final season average two years ago (1.26) — and a 341% increase from three years ago (0.63).
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic’s regular-season coverage of the Capitals set another all-time ratings mark for the network, besting last season’s average WSH DMA household rating – the previous high – by more than 12%.
Flyers games averaged a 2.4 rating on Comcast SportsNet during the 2010-11 season, a nine percent increase over the 2009-10 season.
CROSS-CHANNEL PRIORITY: The 2011 NHL All-Star Game on VERSUS as well as same-day coverage of both “Hockey Day in America” on NBC and the “Heritage Classic” on VERSUS were identified by NBCUniversal’s Marketing Council as cross-channel priorities. They received extensive promotion across NBCUniversal’s 20 channels and more than 40 websites. All three events leveraged the newly-expanded resources of the NBC Sports Group by combining the national media assets of NBC Sports and VERSUS and local insight from storied hockey markets like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia served by Comcast SportsNet. As a result:
VERSUS scored its most-watched NHL All-Star Game in its history and generated a viewership increase up 36 percent vs. the 2009 game. There was no game in 2010 due to the Vancouver Olympics.
NBC Sports’ coverage of Penguins-Blackhawks, the second game of “Hockey Day in America,” was watched by 1.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-Winter Classic NHL regular-season game in five years (1/14/06, three-game regional on NBC, 2.0 million).
The 2011 Heritage Classic on VERSUS, played between two Canadian teams (Montreal at Calgary) and won in a 4-0 blowout by Calgary, averaged 608,000 viewers, making it the most-watched regular-season game between two Canadian teams on cable since NHL viewership became available by Nielsen in the 1993/94 season