Pretty Gosh Darn Cool, Right? Pens/Wings Most Watched Hockey Game in 36 Years

NEW YORK – June 15, 2009 – Friday night’s deciding Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC Sports was the most-watched NHL game in 36 years with an average of 8 million viewers (5/10/73, Stanley Cup Final Game 6 on NBC, Montreal-Chicago, 9.4 million). Overall, the series averaged 5.6 million viewers for the five games on NBC, the best since 2002 on ABC (three telecasts, Detroit-Carolina, 5.8 million). 

Friday’s Game 7 earned a 4.3 rating and an 8 share, the best for a series-ending game in six years (6/9/03, Game 7, Anaheim-New Jersey, 4.6/8). 

NBC Sports’ Game 7 broadcast finished No. 1 for the night in every category including viewership and household ratings. 

Competitive Notes: 
· NBC won Friday night by a margin of 191 percent in Adults 18-49 (3.2 vs. 1.1 for second-place CBS) and by 41 percent in total viewers (7.7 million vs. CBS’s 5.5 million). 

· The broadcast of Game 7 beat the ABC-CBS-Fox competition combined in Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34, Men 18-34, Women 18-34, Men 18-49 and Men 25-54. 

· The 3.2 rating in Adults 18-49 makes this NBC’s top-rated Friday night since the Beijing Olympics last August.

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VERSUS to Air NHL Awards and NHL Draft

NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 15, 2009)-VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), will once again air live coverage of the 2009 NHL Awards on Thu., June 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET and the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft on Fri., June 26, at 7 p.m. ET.  The 2009 NHL Awards will take one last look at the remarkable 2008/09 season by honoring the accomplishments of the players and coaches as voted on by their peers, hockey writers and League managers.  One week later, at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, teams begin their quest to capture next year’s Stanley Cup by selecting promising young talent.

The 2009 NHL Awards will honor the exceptional performances of the League’s best and brightest stars and, for the first time ever, will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas.  The 2009 NHL Awards will feature the announcement of the League’s top regular-season performers in a host of categories, including most valuable player (Hart Trophy), outstanding goaltender (Vezina Trophy), outstanding defenseman (Norris Trophy), outstanding rookie (Calder Trophy) and outstanding coach (Jack Adams Award).  

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal as part of the Canadiens 100th anniversary celebration and will feature the top 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders from North America, as well as the top 160 skaters and 18 goaltenders from Europe.  The players are ranked by the Central Scouting Service, which attends 3,000 games to provide the NHL with evaluations of draft eligible players and a rank order.  The New York Islanders will make their selection first, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, Atlanta Thrashers and Los Angeles Kings. 

VERSUS celebrates real competition across all platforms (VERSUS.com, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD).  Now in more than 75 million homes, the network is the national cable home of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the IndyCar® Series as well as best-in-class events such as The Tour de France, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Professional Boxing.  The network also offers collegiate sports featuring nationally-ranked teams from top conferences such as the Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League. VERSUS features the best field sports programming on television and is a destination for sports fans, athletes and sportsmen to find exclusive, competitive events and original programs, such as Sports Soup and The Contender, that audiences can’t find elsewhere.  VERSUS, a wholly owned company of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK), is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.

NHL Likely to Sell All TV, Digital Rights in 2011

From the fantastic John Ourand and Tripp Mickle of Sports Business Journal (reg. required):

The NHL is within a couple of weeks of announcing its broadcast TV deal with NBC for the next two seasons. The NBC renewal means that all of the league’s domestic and international TV deals will expire after the 2010-11 deal, including its cable TV deal with Versus and international TV deal with ESPN America.

During the league’s negotiations with NBC, there was some question about whether the NHL should sign another revenue-sharing deal with NBC. Given the ratings increases this season on Versus, some hockey executives wondered if the league should sell NBC’s package to Versus, which holds cable exclusivity.

But the NHL ultimately opted to extend the revenue-sharing agreement because of the breadth of NBC’s broadcast platform. Even with Versus ratings growth this season, NBC’s hockey coverage still was much more popular. For example, 79 percent of the 35 million unduplicated viewers who watched a Stanley Cup Finals game in 2008 only watched NBC.

“This is the power of the NBC relationship right now in our development,” said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. “They provide us a big broadcast platform and the ability to create big events like the Winter Classic and Stanley Cup Final.”

By syncing the U.S. TV deals, the NHL will be able to go into the market with one big package and avoid some of the challenges of trying to sell the NBC package on its own this year, such as negotiating around Versus’ cable exclusivity.

This is a good idea for the league.  Having everything to sell in one year gives you the chance to sell to companies that own both broadcast and cable networks (FOX, NBC, ABC) as well as try to leverage money from separate companies.  It certainly doesn’t bode well for VERSUS, which can only bid for the cable portion of the package.

What’s Going On Here?

Here’s the deal for the next couple of weeks:

Monday, Wednesday – Friday: I’ll do a post per day, today will likely round up the ratings, Wednesday will be a full review of NBC and VERSUS this season, Thursday and Friday will deal with the awards show.

Tuesday: Wrap will be here, discussing Sean Avery’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon.

Next Monday (6/22): Wrap again.

Next Tuesday-Friday (6/23 – 6/26): Post per day, with Friday expecting to be draft heavy (we may even venture a mock draft!)

The Next Monday (6/29): Wrap

The Next Tuesday-Friday (6/30 – 7/3): Me, talking UFA coverage and such.

Monday, 7/6: Wrap

Tuesday – Friday, 7/7 – 7/10: Guest Poster Week!

Monday, 7/13: Wrap

Tuesday – Friday, 7/14 – 7/17: NHL Schedule Release Week!  We’ll be pretty hardcore this whole week.

Monday, 7/20: Wrap

Tuesday – Friday, 7/21 – 7/24: Additional thoughts on the schedule, predictions of the TV schedule.

Monday – Friday, 7/27 – 7/31: Guest Poster Week!

Monday, 8/3 – 8/7: The Best of Puck the Media 2008-09, Part 1

Monday, 8/10: Wrap

Tuesday, 8/11 – 8/14: Likely NHL TV Schedule Release Week!  Thoughts on everything CBC/VERSUS/TSN, etc.

Monday, 8/17 – 8/21: The Best of Puck the Media 2008-09, Part 2

Monday, 8/24 – 8/28: Guest Poster Week!

That’s your Summer here at Puck the Media, subject to change should anything come up.  We hope you’ll join us here for more views, interviews and general fun!