NBC Sports Sees Strong Gains For First Round Of Stanley Cup Playoffs Despite Obstacles
NBC Sports saw viewership jump for both linear TV and digital streaming during the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. The rise was fueled by a record 18 OT games in round one (42 total games). The increase also came despite five Canadian teams in the playoffs (zero last season), side-by-side coverage with RSNs for the first time (only local blackouts for Boston, Pittsburgh markets) and no Game 7s for the first time since '01. On TV alone, there were 39 telecasts (excludes three on non-rated NHL Network), and those first-round games averaged 763,000 viewers. That is the best mark for the first round since '13. NBC Sports, which airs games on NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC, was up 7% from 710,000 viewers for 45 first-round games last year, which included two Game 7s. On cable TV, NBC Sports saw gains on all three of its networks. NBCSN's 21 telecasts averaged 625,000 viewers, up from 598,000 viewers for 24 games last season. USA Network drew 596,000 viewers for eight telecasts, up from 523,000 last year (five games), while CNBC averaged 459,000 viewers (four games), up from 327,000 last year (10 games). While cable TV performed well, the audience was down sharply on NBC. The broadcast net averaged 1.63 million viewers for its six games, down 13% from the same number of games last season. Half of NBC's games this season involved a Canadian club, whereas last year, all involved U.S.-based teams. NBC also had two Saturday primetime games this season compared to one in '16.
JUST A TAD HIGHER: When including streaming alongside TV numbers, NBC Sports' total audience delivery was 742,000 viewers for the first round, the company's best mark since '14 (753,000 viewers). That figure also is up 4% from 713,000 viewers last season. Streaming figures include games shown on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. For the 39 first-round games, the streaming platforms saw record numbers for unique visitors (62,000) and minutes streamed (3.4 million) per game.