2010 NHL Playoffs Boast Highest Ratings Since Move to Versus

The 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have jumped out to solid start, notching its highest ratings and largest audiences on cable since 2002, when the NHL postseason were telecast on ESPN and ESPN2.

For the first time since the current playoffs format was adopted in 1987, all eight first-round series were tied 1-1 after two games, while each of the first eight games in this year’s playoffs was decided by one goal and seven of the 23 games have been
decided in overtime.

VERSUS’  first  five nights of Conference Quarterfinal round coverage averaged a .6 household (HH) rating and 543,000 viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-watched  start  to  the postseason on cable since 2002.  The HH rating and average  viewership  is up 50 percent and 21 percent, respectively, as compared to  VERSUS’  first  five  nights of last year’s postseason (.4 HH rating  and 447,000 viewers).

Through its first two playoff broadcasts, the overnight rating average of 1.4 on NBC is even with last year. National ratings and viewership will be available on Thursday.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are also reaping increased viewership in Canada. TSN has averaged 992,000 viewers for nine telecasts through April 18, a 112 percent increase over last year to date (467,000 viewers). Meanwhile, CBC is averaging 1,268,000 viewers for its 10 broadcasts through games of April 18, a 33 percent increase over last season (951,000 viewers).     RDS is averaging 451,000 viewers for its 12 telecasts through April 19, up 12 percent over last year (414,000 viewers).

In addition, several RSN are reporting increased ratings and audience numbers over last season, including CSN Chicago, MSG Network/MSG Plus, KTVK-Phoenix, Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, CSN DC, CSN California.

The NHL has also seen growth on its digital platforms in the first week of the Playoffs. Video starts on NHL.com have increased by 140 percent over the first six days of the postseason in 2009. Unique Visitors to NHL.com are up 23 percent over last year (14 percent in the U.S. and 18 percent in Canada). Page Views on NHL.com are up 42 percent. Mobile page views are up 185 percent.  Game Center Live Race for the Cup packages are up 24 percent first five days of the postseason in 2009.

The NHL also saw a record number ofdownloads of NHL Ice Time 2010, the League’s official app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that is distributed outside of North America.  As of Sunday, it remains among the top five sports apps sold on iTunes in 17 countries outside of North America.