Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals drew the largest audience to Versus in its history, as 2.96 million viewers tuned in Tuesday night to see the Penguins defeat the Red Wings 4-2.

The delivery tops Versus’ previous record of 2.61 million viewers for Game 2 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.

NBC and Versus flipped their broadcast schedules for the first time this year, as the broadcaster carried the first two Stanley Cup games and Versus assumed the rights for Games Three and Four. Last year, Versus averaged 2.48 million viewers with those first two Finals match-ups.

Through three games, the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals is averaging 4.25 million viewers on NBC and Versus, up 42 percent from last year’s 3 million. Game 1 of the Penguins/Red Wings series averaged 4.4 million viewers on NBC Saturday night, while Game Two drew 5.4 million viewers.

via MediaWeek.

Here is the Versus press release:


NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 3, 2009)—VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), garnered a 2.6 national HH rating and averaged 2,955,348 viewers for its Game 3 telecast of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday, June 2, with the Pittsburgh Penguin’s 4-2 defeat over the Detroit Red Wings at Mellon Arena.  The game, which peaked at a 3.5 HH rating between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m., was the highest-rated and most-watched Stanley Cup Final game on cable since 2002.  VERSUS, for the 8:00-10:45 p.m. time period, was the most-viewed cable network in the country and the top-rated network overall (broadcast and cable) among all key male demos.

The 2.6 national HH rating is the best rating ever in the history of the network, beating both Lance Armstrong’s final ride (7/24/05) and Game 5 between Detroit/Chicago in the Conference Finals (5/27/09) which both earned a 2.1 HH rating.  Among average viewers, the Game 3 telecast topped the network’s previous high set during Game 2 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final (2,608,371).  VERSUS’ Game 3 telecast showed a 37-percent increase in HH rating (2.6 vs 1.9) and 19-percent growth (2,955,348 vs 2,479,977) in average viewership over the average of Games 1 and 2 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final between the Red Wings and Penguins.

Locally, VERSUS garnered a 15.1 HH rating in Detroit and a 26.1 HH rating in Pittsburgh, making VERSUS the top-rated network (broadcast and cable) for the time period in both markets.  VERSUS was also a top 5 cable network for the time period in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC and Philadelphia, among others.

VERSUS entered the 2009 Stanley Cup Final with tremendous momentum based on ratings and viewership gains in the regular season and through each round of the playoffs.  The network’s coverage of the 2009 Conference Final round was the highest-rated third round on cable since 1998 with HH ratings up 25 percent and average viewership up 30 percent from 2008.  The third-round growth came on the heels of VERSUS airing the highest-rated Conference Semifinals on cable since 1997 and seeing 32-percent viewership growth in that round, 22-percent viewership growth in the Conference Quarterfinals and a 21-percent increase in viewership during the regular season.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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