Ratings Roundup: Stanley Cup Playoffs on a Roll for NBC, RSNs; ABC, NBATV Post Record NBA Regular Season

The NHL Playoffs have gone gangbusters thus far on in both the national and regional ratings games, highlighted by Wednesday’s Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, which was watched by 1.32 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network, making it the most-watched NHL Conference Quarterfinal game on cable in 12 years.

NBC, NBC Sports Net Riding the Stanley Cup Rating Wave
The 1.32 million viewers for Wednesday’s game, in which the Capitals defeated the Bruins, 2-1, in overtime in Boston, was up 43% vs. last year (926,000; Was-Mon, Game 7), and is now the most-watched Conference Quarterfinal game since the NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS) began televising NHL playoff games in 2006. It is the most-watched first-round game on cable in 12 years, since 1.51 million viewers watched San Jose-St. Louis Game 7 in 2000 (ESPN). Last night’s game produced a 0.89 rating and peaked at 1.13 during the 10 p.m. ET half hour. Through the first 15 days of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NBC Sports Network is averaging 729,000 viewers per game, up 14% (and that is before two more Game 7’s took place last night).

As for the broadcast side, through the first two weekends of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, NBC is averaging 2.6 million viewers through six games, up 39% compared to last year (1.9 million, four games) and making it the best two-weekend delivery in 14 years, since Fox averaged 2.8 million viewers for its first two weekends in 1998 (two games). Sunday’s Capitals-Bruins Game 6 averaged 3.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched Conference Quarterfinal game since the advent of people meters in 1993.

Bruins Light the Lamp for NESN
It is not just the national scene that is seeing big numbers for the Caps-Bruins series, however, as NESN set a new single-game ratings record for Bruins hockey when Game 7 of the series received a 19.6 average household rating in the Boston DMA. The game ranks as the 6th highest rated event in NESN history, and earned an impressive 31 share. NESN’s previous best-ever single-game hockey rating was last season’s Bruins Game 7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal victory over the Montreal Canadiens on April 27, 2011 when the network garnered a 17.7 HH rating and a 28 share.

NESN also set a new record for the highest rated playoff series in network history, televising four of the seven games and garnering a 13.6 average household rating. (previous record was 11.9 HH rating for last season’s Canadiens series). Bruins regular season ratings also set a NESN record during the 2011/12 campaign with a 4.7 average household rating in the Boston DMA (up 52% over last year’s record 3.1 HH rating). NESN’s Bruins ratings have increased an astounding 115% over the last two seasons.

Rangers Raking in Viewers for MSG
While numbers for the New York Ranger’s Game 7 victory last night are not yet available, the team has already delivered huge audiences for MSG during its first round series with the Ottawa Senators. MSG’s Monday night telecast of Game 6 scored a 4.27 Nielsen household rating, making it the highest-rated Rangers game on the network since May 6, 1997 when the Rangers faced the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals (5.01 HH). The game telecast was the top-rated program in New York on Monday night among all household-rated programs on cable networks and peaked with a 5.99 quarter-hour household rating between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.

Through six games, MSG Networks’ coverage of the Rangers-Senators in the first round of the playoffs is averaging a 3.52 household rating, up 52% compared to the first six games of the first round of the 2008-09 playoffs (2.31 HH), the last time the team went at least six games in a playoff series, when the Ranges faced the Washington Capitals (Games 2 and 6 were carried by NBC; all others were on MSG).

NBA Hits Playoffs at Ratings Highpoint
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to get some stiff compeition, however, as the NBA is riding a wave of record regular season ratings into the playoffs.

ABC delivered its highest-rated and most-viewed NBA regular season ever, averaging a 3.3 household rating and 5.42 million viewers for its 15 broadcasts during the 2011-2012 campaign. That is up 10% in ratings (3.0) and 6% in audience from last season (5,110,000).

NBA TV also posted its most viewed regular season ever, as its 96-game regular-season schedule averaged 337,000 viewers (up 33% vs. 253,000) and 266,000 households (up 34% vs. 199,000), compared with the same number of telecasts last season. NBA TV is currently available in 59 million households.