Game 1 Hits Record Numbers, as Expected, in New York

It took two local teams, but New York appears to be all in for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at this point.

Game 1 of the Devils/Rangers Eastern Conference Final series drew a huge 6.2 local rating in New York, the highest number for any Stanley Cup broadcast in the market so far this post-season. It beats out Game 7 of the Rangers-Senators first round series (a 5.7) on MSG for the top spot.

Nine broadcasts from this post-season have broken the network’s record for a local broadcast in New York (a 2.14 for Rangers/Penguins in 2008 on VERSUS) between the Devils and Rangers.

NBC Sports Network Exclusive Broadcasts in New York During the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

April 30, Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 2: 3.5
May 1, New Jersey vs. Philadelphia, Game 2: 1.3
May 2, NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 3: 3.9
May 3, Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, Game 3: 2.2
May 6, Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, Game 4: 2.37
May 7, Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 5: 4.3
May 8, New Jersey vs. Philadelphia, Game 5: 2.36
May 9, NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 6: 3.5
May 12, Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 7: 4.8
May 14, New Jersey vs. NY Rangers, Game 1: 6.2

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Devils/Rangers Series Opener Down From Last Year

The Battle of the Hudson River in the Eastern Conference Final started off with a lower number than last year on the NBC Sport Network.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers drew 1.28 million viewers, down 20% from Game 1 between Boston and Tampa Bay in 2011, which scored 1.54 million viewers.

Currently waiting on local ratings, which likely set a record in the New York market. Game 1 is the 15th game of the 2012 Playoffs to crack one million viewers, up from 10 at this point last year.

Games Drawing Over One Million Viewers During the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Cable

1. NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 3 (5/2/12, NBCSN): 1.85 million
2. Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 7 (5/12/12, NBCSN):
1.68 million
3. Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, Game 3 (5/3/12, NBCSN): 1.66 million
t4. Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 5 (5/7/12, NBCSN):
1.65 million
t4. NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 6 (5/9/12, NBCSN):
1.65 million
6. Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, Game 4 (5/6/12, NBCSN):
1.63 million
7. Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 2 (4/30/12, NBCSN): 
1.53 million
8. Washington vs. Boston, Game 7 (4/25/12, NBCSN): 1.32 million
9. New Jersey vs. Philadelphia, Game 5 (5/8/12, NBCSN): 1.31 million
10. New Jersey vs. Philadelphia, Game 2 (5/1/12, NBCSN): 
1.29 million
11. New Jersey vs. NY Rangers, Game 1 (5/14/12, NBCSN): 1.28 million
12. Los Angeles vs. Phoenix, Game 1 (5/13/12, NBCSN):
1.10 million
13. Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh, Game 5 (4/20/12, NBCSN): 
1.07 million
14. Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Game 4 (4/18/12, NBCSN): 1.03 million

(Source: TV By the Numbers)

Your Announcers and Open Thread for Night 33 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Los Angeles vs. Phoenix, Game 2 (LA Leads 1-0), 9:00 p.m. ET

US National TV: NBC Sports Network
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Color: Darren Pang
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Canada National TV: TSN
Play by Play: Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Kings/Coyotes Debuts to 1.1 Million

The 2012 Western Conference Final got off to a solid start on NBC Sports Network.

The network drew 1.1 million viewers for the first game of the Kings/Coyotes series, up 9% from Game 1 of the 2011 Western Conference Final between San Jose and Vancouver (1.0 million). Game 1 of last year’s series ended up being the most-watched game of the entire Western Final.

As was posted yesterday, Game 1 drew a 5.5 in Phoenix and a 2.1 in Los Angeles. The NBC Sports Network was the number one network in both markets for the evening.

Another interesting barometer for NBCSN: 14 games to date have topped one million viewers during the 2012 post-season. At this point last year, there were nine games that had topped a million.

Games Drawing Over One Million Viewers During the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Cable

1. NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 3 (5/2/12, NBCSN): 1.85 million
2. Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 7 (5/12/12, NBCSN):
1.68 million
3. Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, Game 3 (5/3/12, NBCSN): 1.66 million
t4. Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 5 (5/7/12, NBCSN):
1.65 million
t4. NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 6 (5/9/12, NBCSN):
1.65 million
6. Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, Game 4 (5/6/12, NBCSN):
1.63 million
7. Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 2 (4/30/12, NBCSN): 
1.53 million
8. Washington vs. Boston, Game 7 (4/25/12, NBCSN): 1.32 million
9. New Jersey vs. Philadelphia, Game 5 (5/8/12, NBCSN): 1.31 million
10. New Jersey vs. Philadelphia, Game 2 (5/1/12, NBCSN): 
1.29 million
11. Los Angeles vs. Phoenix, Game 1 (5/13/12, NBCSN): 1.10 million
12. Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh, Game 5 (4/20/12, NBCSN): 
1.07 million
13. Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Game 4 (4/18/12, NBCSN): 1.03 million

(Source: TV By the Numbers)

New York and Los Angeles Are Not the Key to Record NHL Ratings, Even if Everyone Keeps Telling You It Is

I’ve read a lot of stories in the past few days about how a Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings would be the best thing to ever happen to the NHL. It would set record ratings, no doubt, with the top two television markets involved. Damien Cox said so, The Globe and Mail thought a New York-Los Angeles final would cap a massive run of great fortune for Gary Bettman, Bruce Dowbiggin feels it could set new benchmarks in American ratings as well, and venerable ratings rabblerouser Variety thinks ratings could soar.

I’m not so easily convinced. I’ve been right a couple of times in these playoffs when it comes to ratings, so I think I deserve a shot at telling you why all of these sources are probably wrong, at least short term. Would a Game 7 between the Rangers and Kings likely shoot at that record we saw for Boston and Vancouver last June? Almost definitely. But the NHL would likely face a slow build getting there, as New York and Los Angeles are fractured when it comes to hockey interest.

Game 7 of the Rangers-Capitals conference semifinal drew a 4.8 in the New York market. Not a bad number, a record for NBC. But it was still getting trounced by literally every game of the five-game laughingstock that was the New York Knicks against the Miami Heat. Game 6 of the series got beaten, not only by the Knicks, but by a regular season Yankees game against Tampa Bay. It’s also a bit of potentially upsetting news for NBC Sports Network, as the much more well-known MSG drew a 5.7 rating for the Rangers first-round Game 7 against the Senators.

Could the team see numbers inflate to “Knicks Round 1” levels by the time the Final hits? We won’t honestly know. Their Eastern Conference Final is against the New Jersey Devils, a team that shares the New York market, and drew between a 2.0-2.5 rating for their second round series against Philadelphia. A 6.5-7.0 rating would be considered good (we’ll probably have a solid number shortly after this publishes), but not an accurate representation of the fanbase. The next time we’ll be able to see that would be Game 1 of a Stanley Cup Final.

While New York is doing pretty well, the team still has to share headlines on New York talk radio with middling Mets and Yankees teams, Tebowmania, and people already curious about the Knicks off-season. you’d almost think that getting stopped here, and making the run for the Stanley Cup next year, would be better because the base is likely to be more hungry for the championship a year after almost getting there, as with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009 and 2010.

Los Angeles is proving even more problematic. There are simply fewer diehard hockey fans in LA, and even more storylines hurting the Kings potential for ratings glory. Both the Lakers and Clippers are still in the post-season, and basketball has always been LA’s first love. The Dodgers are riding the Magic Johnson-purchase-led resurgence, the Angels are a bloody fascinating mess with Albert Pujols on their squad.

It shows in the numbers. A 2.1 for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final simply isn’t going to cut it for the #2 television market. Even more upsetting is that’s a record for NBC Sports Network. Which is double upsetting, because VERSUS once televised two games of an Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup Final. Los Angeles seems like another market where winning next year after a great run this year would be better.

But you can’t always get what you want, as it’s an unpredictable sport. Both these teams won Game 1 of their series. There’s a good shot we’ll see one or both in the Stanley Cup Final. Yes, having Broadway and Hollywood involved in the Stanley Cup Final would be fantastic, a dream for a league that still needs to win fans back in both markets from the lockout. But those two markets are just not at the right level to bring in record ratings at this point. It had better be a great series, or else it might be diehards only until at least Game 5. I think some, probably all, of the people thinking that aren’t necessary looking that deep into this, and just seeing the bright lights of the big cities.