NBC Sports Group heads into tonight’s Stanley Cup playoffs opening tripleheader with Nielsen momentum on its side.
NBCSN enjoyed its best-regular season with the puck sport, while NBC is on pace to score its best mark since it began broadcasting National Hockey League action during the 2005-06 campaign.
The programmer, which is in the third of a $2 billion, 10-season rights deal with the NHL, faces off its comprehensive coverage of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, with a trio of encounters on NBCSN and CNBC, starting with NHL Live at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on NBCSN. Contest coverage begins at 7 p.m. on CNBC when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Montreal Canadiens. NBCSN’s game coverage begins with the Columbus Blue Jackets visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m., followed by the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks at 10 p.m.
All NHL playoff games on NBCSN, NBC and CNBC will be live-streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra. Some contests will air on the NHL Network.
North of the border, the CBC, TSN and RDS will televise the action (see the first-round schedule below).
NBCSN netted its most-watched full regular season, averaging 351,000 watchers across 88 telecasts, and up 6% from the 332,000 for the league’s last complete regular-season campaign. Although national data won’t be available for NBC’s final broadcast on April 13 until Thursday, the broadcast averaged 1.73 million viewers through its first 12 games, besting the previous best of 1.65 million viewers for the 2010-11 season, and up 22% from the 1.42 million for last year’s lockout-shortened season. NBCSN averaged 392,000 during the truncated season a year ago.
Deliveries were lifted by the inaugural NHL Stadium Series, the return of the NHL Winter Classic, and the second season of Wednesday Night Rivalry.