NBC’s Three-Game Average Best Since 2002, CBC Up From ’09

NEW YORK (June 7, 2010) – The overnight rating of a 4.0 and 7 share for last night’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC was up 54 percent over last year’s Game 5 (2.6, Detroit-Pittsburgh) and earned the best non-overtime Game 5 rating in eight years (Carolina-Detroit, 4.5, 2002 on ABC). In 2008, Detroit and Pittsburgh played a three-overtime Game 5 that

generated a 4.3.

Last night’s game peaked at a 4.7/7 from 9:30-10 p.m. ET. Chicago led all markets with a 26.0 rating and 41 share. Philadelphia followed with a 19.7 rating and 28 share. It was the highest rating for each local market so far.

Top 10 Markets

1. Chicago 26.0/41

2. Philadelphia 19.7/28

3. Buffalo 10.6/15

4. Pittsburgh 5.8/9

5 Detroit 4.2/6

6. Las Vegas 3.9/6

7. Minneapolis 3.8/7

8. Fort Myers 3.7/6

9. Milwaukee 3.6/6

T10. Denver 3.3/6

T10. Columbus 3.3/5

T10. West Palm 3.3/5

The three-game overnight rating average on NBC of a 3.6 is the best on network television for the Stanley Cup Final in eight years and a 29 percent increase over last year (2.8).

Wednesday night’s Game 3 on VERSUS garnered a 3.1 national HH rating and averaged 3.6 million viewers making VERSUS the most-watched cable network among total viewers, all key demos and among Adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.

The game was VERSUS’ most-watched telecast in network history and was the most-watched Stanley Cup Final game on cable in eight years.

Note: National rating and viewership information for Game 4 on VERSUS is not yet available.

Through four games, the Final on CBC is averaging 2.83 million viewers, a 54 percent increase over last year (1.84 million).

DIGITAL PLATFORMS SHOW IMPRESSIVE GROWTH

The NHL is engaging and connecting with more fans than ever on its digital platforms and the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs has continued that trend. Some highlights:

· For the first nine days of the Stanley Cup Final, page views are up 83 percent over last year and video starts are up 196 percent

· For the first 54 days of the playoffs, video starts on NHL.com are up 153 percent over last year

· Unique visitors to NHL.com are up 29 percent

· Page views are up 52 percent

· Mobile page views are up 181 percent

· April was the most trafficked month in the history of NHL.com in terms of unique visitors surpassing 17 million

· NHL.com ranked as the number two site in terms of percentage change in unique visitors from March to April according to comScore.

TV MILESTONES IN THE 2010 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

· NBC Sports’ coverage of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final earned the best overnight rating (4.1 rating and 7 share) for a Game 2 on record (NHL overnight data prior to 1975 is unavailable)

· Canada also scored big for Game 1 of the Final with CBC equaling its best Game 1 audience since 1994 (3.16 million).

· NBC’s two-game average overnight rating is a 3.5, the best for the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final in 11 years (3.8 on Fox in 1999, Buffalo vs. Dallas) and up 17 percent over last year (3.0).

· VERSUS’ coverage of the first two rounds of 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the most-watched first two rounds on cable on record with an average of 775,000 viewers for the 54 telecasts (Stanley Cup Playoff cable viewership became available by Nielsen for the 1994 playoffs)

· NBC and VERSUS have combined for the most-watched first two rounds since 1997 (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2)

· Game 1 of the Blackhawks-Sharks series on NBC earned an 11.2 rating in Chicago, beating the Cubs, White Sox and Boston-Orlando broadcasts combined

· On Thursday April 22, the Blackhawks, with 278,000 viewers in Chicago, prevailed over some tough local competition: Bulls (255,000 viewers, playoff game against Cleveland and LeBron James), NFL Draft (138,000) and the Chicago Cubs vs. NY Mets (137,000 viewers)

· The Flyers Game 7 victory over the Bruins was the most watched Flyers game in Comcast SportsNet history with an 11.7 rating and 345,000 households, topping the previous record set two days earlier.

· CBC’s coverage of Game 7 between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins drew an average audience of 4.24 million viewers, ranking as the sixth largest Stanley Cup Playoff audience in CBC history.

· On French language RDS, the Canadiens-Penguins Game 7 was the most-viewed NHL telecast in the network’s history with 2.69 million viewers.

· The game also scored on FSN Pittsburgh averaging a 26.4 HH rating, the highest-rated game ever on the network. At one point 43 percent of all households in the Pittsburgh DMA were tuned into FSN.

· There were three major Boston-area sports events televised on May 7 and Game 4 of the Bruins-Flyers series scored the best numbers, earning an 8.3 local Nielsen rating (328,000 viewers) on Versus in the Boston metered market besting the Yankees-Red Sox matchup on NESN, which earned a 6.3 local rating (223,000 viewers) to finish in second, while Game Three of the Cavaliers-Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals earned a 4.1 local rating (142,000 viewers) on ESPN.

· TSN’s audience of 2.8 million for the Washington-Montreal Game 7 was the highest audience ever recorded for an NHL game on TSN and was the most-watched program on Canadian television Wednesday night in all key demographics.

· The Montreal-Washington series ranks as the most-watched playoff series ever on TSN (any round) with an average audience of 1.8 million viewers over seven games.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NHL’S RECORD-BREAKING BUSINESS SUCCESS IN 2009-10

· Corporate sponsorship was up 20 percent

· New League partners this season include Geico, Starwood Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, LG Electronics and Hershey’s Canada

· Ad spending on NHL® media increased by 37 percent over last season

· NHL.com ad revenue is up 50 percent over last year

· Revenue from big event platforms, led by the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, are up 22 percent over last season

· Unique visitors to NHL.com surpassed last year’s record by 32 percent

· NHL Game Center Live™ subscriptions were up 25 percent

· NHL Network subscribers have increased by 104 percent

· Sales at SHOP.NHL.com were up 12 percent from last year’s record

· Viewership for NBC’s Game of the Week telecasts were up 13 percent

· Ratings for exclusive telecasts on Versus were up 20 percent

· NHL Mobile™ reached 1.6 million page views, an increase of 233 percent over last season

Source: Nielsen Media Research US and Nielsen Media Research Canada / BBM

NHL Net to Air Documentary on Life as a Ref

Bill McCreary has seen it all over nearly three decades of officiating NHL games. Ghislain Hebert is still a neophyte hoping to carve out his own career in a demanding and rewarding profession.

The two referees will be the subject of an original documentary set to air on the NHL Network. The broadcast premiere of “Behind the Stripes: A Ref’s Life” will debut on Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The 30-minute original documentary was produced by the NHL’s Officiating Department and NHL Network and will also air on June 14 at 11 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET.

“Behind the Stripes: A Ref’s Life” documents the personal journey of McCreary and Hebert with a behind the scenes look at their profession. They share their on- and off-ice experiences, challenges and accomplishments during the 2009-10 season.

McCreary, 54, began his NHL career on November 3, 1984 (New Jersey at Washington) and has officiated more than 1,650 regular season games, 300 playoff games and 15 Stanley Cup Final series, including two games in this year’s battle between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.

The Guelph, Ontario native has also officiated some of the most prestigious international hockey events, including the 1998, 2002 and 2010 Olympics, 1991 Canada Cup tournament and 1994 NHL All-Star Game.

Hebert, 29, a native of Bathurst, New-Brunswick, officiated his first NHL game during the 2008-09 NHL season and has since called 10 more games. He started his officiating career in the Bathurst and Moncton minor hockey associations and worked in the QMJHL as a linesman before moving to refereeing. He has also worked as a full time referee in the ECHL and AHL. His international resume includes the IIHF World University Championships and the World Under-17 championships.

The NHL Officiating Department hosts an annual recruitment session, NHL Exposure, in August to introduce young hockey players to the prospect of officiating. This documentary was produced to encourage young men and women to consider officiating as a part-time or even full-time profession.

I’m Totally Curious to See the Extent of NBC’s Participation in Hockey Day

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The fourth annual Hockey Weekend Across America, presented by Reebok, will take place Feb. 18-20, 2011, it was announced today by USA Hockey.

Launched by USA Hockey in 2008, Hockey Weekend Across America is a nationwide initiative to celebrate the game and those involved at all levels and to expose hockey to new audiences.

“Hockey Weekend Across America is something that those involved in our sport look forward to each year,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “It’s important that we take time to celebrate and we’re especially pleased to have NBC fully engaged in the event this year.”

As part of Hockey Weekend Across America in 2011, NBC and the National Hockey League will salute roots of the game, as well as its traditions and pageantry with Hockey Day in America on Sunday, Feb. 20. The day-long event will celebrate hockey with a slate of NHL games that are scheduled to include Philadelphia, New York Rangers, Washington, Buffalo, Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Boston.

Each of the three days of Hockey Weekend Across America is themed, including: Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey, sponsored by ShopUSAHockey.com, on Friday, Feb. 18; Bring a Friend to the Rink, sponsored by the NHL, on Saturday, Feb. 19; and Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes, sponsored by Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports, on Sunday, Feb. 20.

NBC Promotes Numbers, Ratings Up 54% from 2009

NEW YORK? June 7, 2010 — Last nights Stanley Cup Final posted the best overnight rating for a non-overtime Game 5 in eight years. The game generated a 4.0 overnight rating and 7 share, the best for a non-OT Game 5 since 2002 (4.5 on ABC, Carolina-Detroit). Game 5 featured Chicago defeating Philadelphia, 7-4, in the largest winning margin of the series. The 4.0 overnight is up 54 percent vs. last year’s Game 5 (2.6) between the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, featuring Sidney Crosby. In 2008, Detroit and Pittsburgh played a three-overtime Game 5, which generated a 4.3 overnight rating.

Best Non-OT Game 5s Since 2002

2010 Chi-Phi 4.0

2003 Ana-NJ 3.5

2006 Car-Edm 2.9

2009 Det-Pit 2.6

2007 Ana-Ott 2.4

Last nights game peaked at a 4.7/7 in the 9:30-10 p.m. ET half-hour. Chicago led all markets with a 26.0 rating and 41 share. Philadelphia followed with a 19.7 rating and 28 share. It was the highest rating for each local market so far. The three-game overnight average for Games 1-2 and 5 on NBC is 3.6, the best three-game overnight average for the first three games of a Stanley Cup Final on network TV in eight years (4.1 on ABC, 2002, Carolina-Detroit) and up 29 percent vs. last year (2.8).

Top 10 Markets

1. Chicago 26.0/41

2. Philadelphia 19.7/28

3. Buffalo 10.6/15

4. Pittsburgh 5.8/9

5. Detroit 4.2/6

6. Las Vegas 3.9/6

7. Minneapolis 3.8/7

8. Fort Myers 3.7/6

9. Milwaukee 3.6/6

T10. Denver 3.3/6

T10. Columbus 3.3/5

T10. West Palm 3.3/5

Game 5 Nears 6 Million Viewers, Up Big From 2009

On a night with steep competition, the NHL was up in viewers from last year.

Last night’s Game 5 broadcast on NBC of the Blackhawks 7-4 victory over the Flyers drew 5.95 million viewers and a 2.2 among adults 18-49.  The game peaked from 9:30-10:00 PM ET with 6.91 million viewers and a 2.6 in the demo.  The numbers are up 39% in viewers and 38% in the demo from 2009’s Game 5, which aired on a Saturday night against no competition from the NBA.  The game drew a 26.0 rating in Chicago, and a 19.7 in Philadelphia.

If the final viewer numbers hold up, it would bring NBC’s average up to 5.4 million viewers for their three games of coverage of the series.  That’d be up from last year’s three game average (which, mind you, contained two Saturday telecasts) of 4.6 million for Games 1, 2 and 5 by 15%.  Overall, the move to Sunday night – despite being pounded by the NBA – can be looked upon as a relative success.

NHL on NBC Down Slightly From Game 2, Still Does Okay vs. Hoops Sunday Night

From Marc Berman of Mediaweek:

Game five of The Stanley Cup Finals, which averaged an estimated 4.0/ 7 in the overnights from 8-11 p.m. Here is the half-hour breakdown:

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5 (NBC)
8:00 p.m.: 3.4/ 6 (#3)
8:30 p.m.: 4.2/ 7 (#2)
9:00 p.m.: 3.7/ 6 (#2)
9:30 p.m.: 4.7/ 7 (#2)
10:00 p.m.: 3.6/ 6 (#3)
10:30 p.m.: 4.3/ 7 (#2)

For sheer posterity, the NBA Finals numbers:

NBA Finals, Game 2
8:00 p.m.: 7.9/14 (#1)
8:30 p.m.: 9.7/16 (#1)
9:00 p.m.: 11.1/18 (#1)
9:30 p.m.: 10.4/16 (#1)
10:00 p.m.: 12.3/19 (#1)
10:30 p.m.: 13.9/22 (#1)

Its Time For VERSUS to Get the Credit it Deserves

Hockey fans tend to have selective memories.  This tends to be amusing fodder for me on Twitter and when listening to hockey fans debate almost anything.  It stops being amusing when it leaves the ice and whoever you listen to arguing begins discussing the NHL’s television deals.  As a media enthusiast, it annoys me more than anything how much the average hockey fan – never mind the average non-hockey fan – flat out gets wrong about the NHL’s contract with VERSUS.  From how no one else would take the NHL (ESPN offered, remember) to the notion that VERSUS’ quality of production isn’t as high as ESPN’s (it is), and finally, there’s one more thing I need to correct 90% of hockey fans on the planet about today.

The idea that The NHL’s contract with VERSUS was bad for the league.  It has built itself into a better partner in all aspects as ESPN was during its’ 12 years with the league before the lockout.  Especially this season, with the ramped up coverage and the additional studio content and the best playoff ratings on cable ever… It is time for every MSM columnist, every “pundit”, every commentator, every Chicago Blackhawks owner, every blogger, every commenter and every fan to admit that they were wrong on this.  3.6 million people on a cable network that couldn’t draw flies before the NHL got here (and couldn’t even for two years into the deal) can’t be wrong.

Don’t try to argue with me that it was because of the big market clubs either.  The NHL just say a Conference Final round in which the ratings for both series were practically even, despite one of the series including a Canadian team, whose local ratings don’t count when calculating figures.  NHL fans know VERSUS.  Casual sports fans know that VERSUS is the place to find the biggest games in the sport, and if they make the effort – and they have – they’ll find it.  The joke is over – VERSUS is for real.

I don’t have the ratings for Game #4 of the Stanley Cup Final at press time (you’ll see them before the end of the day I almost guarantee) but they’ll come close to 4 million.  It’ll come close to being the 2nd highest rated NHL game on cable since the Rangers won the Stanley Cup on ESPN in 1994.  VERSUS has worked hard and been the brunt of a lot of criticism to get where they are, and I feel as a hockey fan that it is high time we all gave them some hard-earned respect.

VERSUS is headed into their final season as the cable rightsholder for the NHL.  I will reveal once the season is over my plans for predictions about the rights – who should get them, who will get them, who I want to get them – but I’m tempted to just end the suspense right now and answer all as VERSUS.  However, it isn’t that simple and VERSUS knows this.  VERSUS may very well allow a split cable rights deal next time around (I’m just giving an opinion, no inside knowledge).  You know why they’d do it?  Because they think it’d be for the better of the game and the network.  That’s what this whole contract has been about.  Making the NHL into a more TV-friendly and ratings-friendly league, and making VERSUS into a legitimate sports network.  I’d say that they’ve both come into their own and met their goals.