NBC and the NHL have to like the taste of their 10-year television deal right about now. The first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are in the books, and the American television ratings for this year’s Quarterfinals are in the history books.NBC Sports announced Friday that an average of 929,000 viewers tuned in for each first round Stanley Cup Playoff game on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC in Round 1, making it the most-watched first round of the NHL playoffs in history. That’s what happens when you a) Put every game on national television and b) Get the luxury of 32 one-goal games and 16 overtime games.
Games on NBC Sports Network averaged 744,000 viewers according to an NBC press release, up 16 per cent from a year ago when the network was branded Versus. Those are the highest numbers for hockey on cable since 2001, when ESPN’s first round coverage averaged 745,000 viewers.
In addition to the impressive numbers, it seems as though Thursday’s Game 7 strategy paid off for NBCSN. They opted to stagger the start times for the two Game 7’s, and while 984,000 viewers tuned in for the 7 p.m. start time between New York and Ottawa, much of that crowd hung around late into the evening. 867,000 viewers hung around after the Rangers beat the Senators to watch Devils vs. Panthers, which ended in double overtime at 12:17 a.m. ET.
Oh, and then there are local numbers:
We’ll see if NBC can keep the momentum going in the NHL’s Conference Semifinal round, but right now, there’s a lot for the league and it’s TV partner to smile about.
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