Stanley Cup First-round Ratings Highest in a Decade for NBC, Versus

NBC and Versus rode a high-scoring, nail-biting first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs to the highest average first-round viewership in the U.S. in a decade. This year’s first round saw the most goals scored since 1996 and the most overtime games since 2001, as ratings were up almost across the board.

Combined NBC and VERSUS averaged 742,000 viewers per telecast, the most since ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 averaged 750,000 viewers in 2000 and a 24 percent increase over last year.  The combined average viewership was the highest among females since 2000, the highest among Men 18-49 since 2001 and the most among Men 25-54 since 2000.

Versus’ average viewership of 595,000 for the first round of the playoffs was the best for the NHL on U.S. cable in nine years (ESPN/ESPN 2, 608,000 in 2001) and 35% higher than last year (442,000), leading Versus to its best April prime time performance in network history.

Viewership for NBC Sports’ four Conference Quarterfinal broadcasts (1.72 million viewers) was up 18 percent compared to 2009 (1.46 million) and the highest since 2006. The household rating of a 1.1 for the four games also is the best since 2006 and up 10 percent over last year (1.0).

Canadian viewing was also up as TSN viewership rose 89%, CBC viewership rose 50%, and RDS viewership rose 12% compared to 2009. TSN’s audience of 2.8 million for the Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens Game 7 on April 28 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.