Despite a lengthy lockout that threatened to ice the entire season, NBC Sports Network said that the condensed 2013 NHL campaign was the most-watched since the channel began airing games in 2005-06.
NBC Sports Network averaged 392,000 viewers for this season, up 18% over last season' 332,00, to make it the most-watched regular-season on cable since ESPN averaged 474,000 in 1993-94. The new Wednesday Night Rivalry franchise averaged 646,000 viewers over the 14 games and also delivered the two most-watched games in network history with the Jan. 23 Boston Bruins-New York Rangers game (956,000 viewers) and the Feb. 20 Philadelphia Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins matchup (901,000).
"Despite unique programming challenges, NHL viewership grew this year and set numerous records and milestones across both NBC and NBC Sports Network, including a successful new franchise with Wednesday Night Rivalry," said Jon Miller, president, programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. "Considering there was a shortened season, no Winter Classic and no All-Star programming, these results speak well of the NHL's popularity and the strength of our partnership."
Final NHL regular-season viewership on NBC will be available Thursday, but this season (excluding the Winter Classic, which was not played due to the lockout) is expected to be the most-watched on the network since 2005-06, the first year the Peacock began airing the pro hockey league's games. Through 13 games, regular-season viewership on NBC was up 15%.