Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/15/11 at 04:26 PM ET
NEW YORK (April 15, 2011) – The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are off to a flying start with substantial viewership increases at both the national and local levels and huge gains on NHL.com in traffic and consumption.
In the U.S., VERSUS set a network record by averaging 534,328 viewers with their opening night triple-header, the best opening night in its six years of Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage and a 12 percent increase over last year. In Canada, CBC earned a 29 percent increase over last year by averaging 1.58 million viewers for its two opening night playoff broadcasts, highlighted by its coverage of Chicago-Vancouver, up a whopping 207 percent over the comparable game last year (Colorado-San Jose). TSN’s telecast of New York-Washington delivered 664,000 viewers; good for a 38 percent gain compared to last year’s opening playoff broadcast featuring two U.S. based teams (Philadelphia-New Jersey, 481,000 viewers).
Locally, Comcast SportsNet’s scored with its Game 1 coverage of the Washington-New York series, posting a 6.2 rating in the D.C. market, making it the second-highest Capitals rating in network history, behind only Game 7 of last year’s first-round series vs. Montreal (8.10) and up 21 percent over last year’s Game 1 against Montreal. The game also earned strong ratings in New York despite head-to-head competition from the Knicks, Yankees and Mets. The 3.4 local rating in New York on MSG Plus made it the highest-rated Conference Quarterfinal telecast for the Rangers since 1997. On ROOT Sports in Pittsburgh, the Penguins earned a massive 16.2 for its win over Tampa Bay. Detroit responded to the Red Wings Game 1 victory over Phoenix with a 9.4 rating on Fox Sports Detroit, while the Blackhawks drew a 5.1 on Comcast SportsNet for its Game 1 loss in Vancouver.
NHL.com continued its upward trajectory for the first day of the playoffs with unique visitors up 23 percent, page views up 22 percent and video starts showing a huge 163 percent increase. On the mobile side, page views were up a healthy 66 percent.
Some notes from NHL.com’s opening night success:
• The top 10 U.S. markets showed year over year growth, even across cities that participated in last year’s opening day of the playoffs but did not have a game on Wednesday such as Philadelphia and San Jose
• Five of the six Canadian NHL cities also showed growth despite one fewer Canadian team making the playoffs
• International demand for the game continues to be strong, with double digit unique visitor growth across the top 10 countries
• The U.S. gained 27 percent, Canada gained 17 percent, while Finland led with 68 percent growth
• The Capitals are showing strength as a regional team with Norfolk (58 percent), Washington D.C. (50 percent) and Richmond (46 percent) all among the top 10 U.S. markets in terms of year over year growth in unique visitors to NHL.com
• In New York, where the Rangers returned to the playoffs after a one year absence, unique visitors were up 38 percent
• Tampa-St. Pete showed substantial growth of 79 percent as did Nashville, up 52 percent
• The state of California also registered gains with Los Angeles up 32 percent and San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland up 22 percent
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