SBD/Issue 184/Sports Media

NBC, Versus Seeing Best Stanley Cup Final Audience Since '02

NBC earned a 3.3 final Nielsen rating and 5.848 million viewers for Sunday night's Flyers-Blackhawks NHL Stanley Cup Final Game Five from 8:00-11:00pm ET, which is up 37.5% and 31.5%, respectively, from a 2.4 rating and 4.446 million viewers for last year's Penguins-Red Wings Game Five, which aired on a Saturday night. NBC is now averaging a 3.0 rating and 5.390 million viewers, marking the best three-game Stanley Cup Final average on broadcast TV since Red Wings-Hurricanes on ABC in '02. Meanwhile, Versus averaged a 1.8 U.S. rating and 3.369 million viewers for its coverage of Games Three and Four, marking the most-viewed NHL Final on cable since ESPN aired Games One and Two in '02. Versus was flat in ratings from last year's two games, but saw a 4.9% increase in viewership from Games Three and Four of last year's Penguins-Red Wings matchup. Versus Friday night earned a 1.7 U.S. rating for Game Four from 8:00-11:07pm, which down 5.6% from Game Four last year on a Thursday night. Game Four also went up against ABC's coverage of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which earned a 2.6 rating (4.0 million viewers) from 8:00-9:34pm (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

STANLEY CUP FINALS RATINGS/VIEWERSHIP ON NBC/VERSUS:
'10 FLYERS/BLACKHAWKS VS. '09 PENGUINS/RED WINGS
DATE
NET
GAME
RATING
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
5/29
NBC
1
2.3
0.0%
4,428
1.6%
5/31
NBC
2
3.3
6.5%
5,892
9.4%
6/2
VS
3
2.0
17.6%
3,600
21.8%
6/4
VS
4
1.7
-5.6%
3,126
-9.3%
6/6
NBC
5
3.3
37.5%
5,848
31.5%
FIVE-GAME AVERAGE
2.5
8.7%
4,551
9.9%

CHI-TOWN FEVER: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare reports WMAQ-NBC averaged a series-high 26.0 local overnight rating in the market for Sunday's Game Five, besting a 25.1 rating for last Monday's Game Two. WLS-ABC averaged a 7.3 local rating in the market for Sunday's Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals Game Two, which aired at the same time as Game Five (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/8). Also in Chicago, Phil Rosenthal noted the 7.3 NBA Finals rating "surpassed what was the highest-rated Blackhawks game in recent memory until this postseason, a testimonial to the strength of that sport's fan base." Meanwhile, the 26.0 local NHL rating is an "indication of growing interest in the Blackhawks," who in the past were an "afterthought among most Chicagoans." But Rosenthal wrote there is "considerable room for growth still before they approach the TV popularity" of the Bears (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/7). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes NBC and Versus' ratings for the Stanley Cup Final "suggest the NHL might be heading for a breakthrough victory at the viewer ballot box -- or they could prove to be a one-year wonder propelled by big local ratings in Chicago and Philadelphia" (USA TODAY, 6/8).

Bettman Says Numbers Are Up Across All
Of NHL's Platforms During Stanley Cup Playoffs

HOCKEY DAY IN AMERICA: In L.A., Diane Pucin writes it has been an "upward trending of numbers for the NHL all through the playoffs, both on Versus and NBC," and it "seems hockey is having its day." More viewers "seem to be watching live sporting events," which also "means nearly everybody in Chicago and Philadelphia is watching hockey." Through the first four games of the Final, 51% of "potential viewers in Chicago and Philadelphia watched," and Nielsen VP/Sports Steve Master said the "markets involved really drive ratings." Master: "The fact that fans in Chicago and Philadelphia are so incredibly engaged really matters. Those are just huge numbers coming out of those two markets." Meanwhile, NHL COO John Collins said that the league "would have preferred not to have gone head-to-head" against Celtics-Lakers on Sunday. Collins: "We clearly lost some viewers in Boston, which has been a historically strong hockey market. But what is pleasing so far is that it seems like the casual fan who has tuned in has returned. They are seeing the quality of hockey at least as good as in that Olympic gold-medal game, if not better" (L.A. TIMES, 6/8). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were "tense, exciting, well played and unpredictable, and I think we're seeing terrific hockey" in the Final. Bettman noted ratings are "up across the board, all of our platforms, NHL.com, and licensed product sales are all extremely strong" (N.Y. POST, 6/8).

POISED TO CASH IN? BROADCASTING & CABLE's Jon Lafayette writes it "could be a very good time" for Bettman "to be negotiating a new round of TV rights agreements." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis: "Gary is in a much better position today than he was a year ago or even two years ago. As I say that, the NHL is not one of the great broadcasting properties available." Lafayette writes "even with its recent gains, the NHL is no NBA," though NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer said that the fact NBC is not paying a rights fee "shouldn't reflect on the NHL." Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson said that he "expects the league to stick with its current TV outlets, unless someone shows up with a big rights fee and a schedule similar to NBC's" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 6/7 issue). Meanwhile, FANHOUSE.com's A.J. Perez wrote one should count Maple Leafs Exec VP & GM Brian Burke "among a growing number of those in the NHL who are fine" with Versus. Burke: "ESPN dumped us. Everybody talks about getting back on ESPN, but I think Versus has been a great broadcast partner. I think their product is excellent and their distribution has increased." Perez noted Versus "has one season left on its contract with the NHL, which sunsets at the same time the NHL's broadcasting deal with NBC ends," and NBC's rights "could be in more doubt than a renewal with Versus." Versus President Jamie Davis said that he "expects to sit down with NHL officials following the conclusion" of the Final (FANHOUSE.com, 6/7).

Return to top

Related Topics:

Media

Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug