Versus Scores Best NHL Playoff Ratings On Cable In A Decade


Versus will skate into its coverage of Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final rematch between the defending champion Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins next week with major Nielsen momentum.
Comcast's national sports service averaged a 1.5 household rating with its coverage of seven, exclusive conference finals games, making it the highest-rated third round on cable since 1998, and up 25% from a 1.2 average for nine games last year. The 2009 conference finals recorded a 30% increase in average audience to 1.72 million from 1.32 million, with men 18 to 49 and men 25 to 54 growing 19% and 39%, respectively, over the corresponding round a year ago.
Versus' performance was boosted significantly by its May 27 telecast of Detroit's Game 5 decider over the Chicago Blackhawks that netted a 2.1 rating -- tying Lance Armstrong's final ride during his seventh-straight Tour De France triumph in 2005 for the network's all-time best mark. The Game 5 Wings-‘Hawks telecast averaged 1.55 million households, its most ever, and 2.32 million viewers. The Western Conference-clinching telecast exceeded its 1.9 household rating and 1.38 million households averages for its coverage of Game 1 and 2 of last year's Stanley Cup Final.
The third-round growth comes on the skates of Versus airing the highest-rated conference semifinals on cable since 1997; lighting the lamp with a 32% gain in viewership from 2008; a 22% advance for the conference quarterfinals; and a 21% increase in viewership during the regular season.
"The 2008-09 NHL regular season and playoffs on Versus have been absolutely amazing. From opening night in October, which at the time was our best-regular season game ever, to airing both the highest-rated second and third round playoff series on cable in more than a decade, viewers around the country have tuned into Versus in record numbers all season long," said Versus president Jamie Davis in a statement. "With the Red Wings and Penguins set to battle in the first Stanley Cup Final rematch in 25 years, we are positioned to continue this tremendous ratings momentum."
NBC will televise Games 1 and 2 on May 30 and 31, and Games 5, 6 and 7, if necessary, on June 6, June 9 and June 12, respectively.