SBD/January 24, 2013/Media

Worth The Wait: Blackhawks, Wild Latest Teams To Set New TV Ratings Records

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Penguins-Flyers part of best non-Winter Classic rating since Gretzky's retirement
The opening games of the NHL regular season led to record ratings for both NBC and a slew of regional sports nets. NBC’s season-opening regional coverage on Saturday from 3:25-6:09pm ET, which featured Blackhawks-Kings and Penguins-Flyers, drew a 1.6 rating and 2.8 million viewers, marking the league’s most-viewed non-Winter Classic game in 14 years. That dates back to Fox' broadcast of Wayne Gretzky's final game in April ’99, which averaged 3.1 million viewers. Saturday's telecast peaked at 3.8 million viewers in the final minutes of Penguins-Flyers. Meanwhile, NBC’s Flyers-Sabres telecast on Sunday drew a 20.1 local rating in Buffalo, marking the best rating ever for a Sabres regular-season game in the market. That figure tops the previous high of a 13.0 rating for the same matchup on April 8, 2011.

MARKET WATCH: Comcast SportsNet Chicago earned a 5.4 local rating for the Blackhawks’ home opener against the Blues on Tuesday night, marking the net’s best rating ever for a Blackhawks regular-season game. That topped the previous high (4.4 rating), set on March 5, 2010, for a game against the Canucks. Meanwhile, MSG Network earned its best ratings in the N.Y. market for both the Rangers and Islanders in around 15 years. MSG earned a 2.9 local rating for Rangers-Bruins on Saturday, marking the net’s best Rangers rating since Rangers-Whalers on April 20, 1995. Saturday’s game also ranks as the fourth-best Rangers regular-season game since MSG began receiving ratings during the ’89-90 season. MSG+ earned a 1.0 local rating for Islanders-Devils on Saturday, marking the second-best Islanders regular-season game since the net began recording ratings for the team in the ’91-92 season. Only the Rangers-Islanders game on March 25, 2002, scored higher (2.0 rating). FS North also set a new high for the Wild. Saturday’s season opener against the Avalanche, marking the team debut of LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter, earned a 7.7 local rating in Minneapolis-St. Paul, beating the previous record of a 4.6 set for Wild-Jets on December 13, 2011. The Wild’s second game on Sunday against the Stars also now ranks second with a 5.4 local rating. The Blues, Capitals and Bruins also had record-setting local ratings announced earlier in the week.

CANADIAN BAKIN’: Sportsnet Ontario averaged 1.1 million viewers for regional coverage of Sabres-Maple Leafs on Monday night, marking the best audience ever for a regional telecast on any of Sportsnet’s channels. Sportsnet Pacific averaged 623,000 viewers for Oilers-Canucks on Sunday night, marking the RSN’s fifth-best Canucks telecast all-time. The CBC also announced record-setting ratings for “Hockey Night in Canada” earlier in the week.

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