NBC Wraps Up NHL Season With Most-Watched Telecast In 36 Years


The Chicago Blackhawks and their legion of fans celebrated the club's first Stanley Cup since 1961 with a parade in the Windy City today.
For their part, NBC, Versus and National Hockey League executives had to be rejoicing with the sport's finals and postseason performance with the Nielsens.
The Peacock's Game 6 coverage on June 9 ranked as the most-watched and highest-rated NHL game in 36 years. With Patrick Kane scoring the Cup -clincher over the Philadelphia Flyers just over 4 minutes into overtime, NBC netted a 4.7 national household rating and an 8 share, translating into 8.28 million viewers on average, according to Nielsen data. That was the most for an NHL game since 1974, when 8.29 million watched the third Stanley Cup Finals game between the Flyers and Boston Bruins (a 7.6 rating/27 share)
Moreover, Wednesday's Game 6 was 38% higher than the equivalent contest between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 Finals (3.4/6share) and 9% above the seventh game between those squads (4.3/8 share). From an audience perspective, Chicago's win over Philly was 43% greater than last year's Game 6 (5.8 million viewers) and 4% more than last year's Game 7 (8.0 million).
The June 9 telecast peaked at a 6.2/11 from 11-11:20 p.m. (ET), when Kane scored the game-winner and the Blackhawks celebrated their elusive championship.
Over the course of its four-game Cup finals coverage (the broadcaster also televised the first, second and fifth contests), NBC averaged 6.1 million viewers, the best network-TV series average in 13 years and ahead 9% from last year (5.6 million viewers).
For its part, Versus averaged 3.37 million viewers for its coverage of Games 3 and 4, up 5% over the 3.21 million for the 2009 final. Game 3's 3.1 rating and 3.6 million watchers ranked as the Comcast-owned network's highest-rated and most-watched telecast ever, surpassing the previous high set by Game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final (2.8 household rating and 3.45 million viewers).
Versus' coverage of the first two rounds of the playoffs, encompassing 54 games, averaged 775,000 viewers, the most on cable since the 1993-94 season, the medium's first postseason campaign that was measured by Nielsen.
All told, Versus' average viewership for the 2010 playoffs for 62 games grew 10% over the 2009 playoffs, covering 59 games.
Next fall, the NHL is expected to begin rights renewal negotiations with Versus and NBC, which has a revenue-sharing agreement with the circuit. The current contracts for networks -- which would be joined under the aegis of Comcast/NBC Universal union, should the deal pass regulatory muste -- expire after the 2010-11 season.