Caps-Bruins Game Seven Sets Audience Records For NBC Sports Net, RSNs
NBC Sports Network averaged 1.32 million viewers for Game Seven of the Capitals-Bruins Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, marking the most-viewed NHL first round game on cable in 12 years, dating back to 1.51 million viewers for ESPN's Sharks-Blues Game Seven in '00. Excluding last night's two Game Sevens -- Rangers-Senators and Devils-Panthers -- NBCSN's NHL Stanley Cup Playoff viewership is up 14% compared to the last season. On broadcast TV, NBC is seeing its best start to the NHL postseason in 14 years, averaging 2.6 million viewers through six games. CNBC averaged 375,000 viewers for its 11 first-round telecasts. Meanwhile, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic averaged a 5.9 local rating in DC for its four telecasts series, marking the net's highest-rated playoff series ever for the Capitals. The previous record was a 5.7 rating for the Capitals-Rangers opening round series last season. The net also averaged an all-time high 2.8 local rating in Baltimore for the Capitals-Bruins series. Wednesday night's Game Seven earned an 8.0 rating in DC, marking the net's second-best Capitals rating ever, just behind an 8.1 for the '10 Capitals-Canadiens series. NESN averaged 13.6 local rating in Boston for its coverage of four Capitals-Bruins games, marking an all-time high for a Bruins' playoff series. The previous best was last season's opening round against the Canadiens (11.9 rating). Game Seven on the net earned a 19.6 local rating, marking a Bruins record and the sixth highest-rated telecast of any sort on NESN (THE DAILY).
MUSIC TO MY EARS: SportSouth earned a 5.2 local rating in Nashville for the series-clinching Predators-Red Wings Game Five on April 20, marking the net's highest rating ever for a Predator's telecast. That topped the record set during Game Four of the series (5.0 rating). Prior to the '12 Stanley Cup playoffs, the previous Predators' record was a 4.8 rating for Game Six of last season's Canucks-Predators Western Conference Semifinals (Fox Sports).
WHAT ABOUT THE FANS: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes the NHL is the “latest in a long line of sports organizations to put the best interests of its paying fans behind the best interests of the television networks that show the games.” The first round of the NHL Western Conference playoffs was over Monday, but “it took until Wednesday for the NHL to even announce a partial schedule for the next round.” Only the Blues “stepping up in mid-evening and beating the NHL to the announcement” about their opener Saturday against the Kings “allowed their ticketholders to know it would be a 6:30 p.m. start and not an afternoon game.” Caesar notes the delay stems from the NHL and NBC, who “wanted to make sure the New York Rangers advanced on Thursday … so they could be featured in key TV slots.” Caesar: “This is the modern sports era, in which the guy buying a ticket no longer is of prime concern” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/27).
AN EMOTIONAL GAME: In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes announcers “don't have an impact on ratings, but Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick must be worth a little" after calling Game Sevens the past two nights on the NBC Sports Network. Dougherty: “If you're flipping channels to check the score, you can't turn away. Playoff hockey is loaded with drama, which Emrick enhances with the enthusiasm in his voice” (Albany TIMES UNION, 4/27). Dougherty noted the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs “has been a ratings success for the NBC Sports Group.” But the “strong hockey markets Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Jose already are out of the playoffs.” Hockey fans “will still watch, and making every playoff game available on national TV has helped.” Also in the net’s “favor is that it will have exclusive rights to all games after this round” (TIMESUNION.com, 4/24). In Ft. Lauderdale, Harvey Fialkov notes TSN cameras at the Devils-Panthers Game Seven “caught a shot of the ever-emotional Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon with his entire face planted on a counter in his suite in absolute despair” as his team lost in double OT (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27).