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Volume 25 No. 66
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NHL Regular-Season Viewership Sees Sharp Drop On TV, But Streaming Sets New Record

NBC and NBCSN saw big drops for NHL viewership during the '16-17 regular season, but streaming picked up some of the slack, as NBC Sports’ digital properties had their best NHL season yet. NBC averaged 1.23 million viewers for 15 NHL games during the regular season, down 20% from last season and the lowest NHL broadcast TV average on record (figures date back to ’93-94 season). The marquee broadcast TV event during the regular season, the Winter Classic, had its third straight season of record low viewership. Not helping the audience for the outdoor game was a move to Jan. 2 due to NFL games falling on New Year’s Day this year. On cable TV, NBCSN averaged 336,000 viewers for its 91 games, marking the league’s lowest average on cable TV since the ’11-12 season (332,000 viewers). This season was down 11% from 378,000 viewers in ’15-16, which was the league’s best full-season average on cable. The drop came despite NBCSN having its best season-opening doubleheader on record. Across NBC and NBCSN games, Pittsburgh was the top-rated market, followed by Buffalo and Minneapolis-St. Paul. NBC Sports execs stressed that its digital properties had a solid NHL season, with live streaming at 923,000 uniques this season, along with 126 million minutes of live viewing -- both records for an NHL season. Looking at the total-audience delivery for the season (TV+digital), NBC Sports averaged 475,000 viewers, down 6% from last season. The NHL season on NBC/NBCSN also reached a total audience of 39.5 million viewers, up 7% from the '15-16 season (36.82 million).

NHL REGULAR-SEASON AUDIENCE TREND ON NBC
SEASON
GAMES
VIEWERS (000)
'16-17
15
1,231
'15-16
11
1,545
'14-15
13
1,457
'13-14
13
1,683
'12-13*
13
1,473
NHL REGULAR-SEASON AUDIENCE TREND ON NBCSN
SEASON
GAMES
VIEWERS (000)
'16-17
91
336
'15-16
94
378
'14-15
91
349
'13-14
88
351
'12-13*
57
392

NOTE: * = Season shortened by lockout.