Did you think the NHL's enormous ratings the first couple of days of the 2013 regular season were a fluke? Think again.
NBC Sports Network's inaugural "Wednesday Night Rivalry", a broadcast which featured the New York Rangers defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in OT, was the most-watched regular season game on cable in 11 years and the most-watched regular season NHL game in NBC Sports Network's history.
The numbers, which can be found in a press release from NBC Sports, detail that the broadcast had 956,000 viewers – a mark that ranks as the best in 11 years on cable, falling just behind the 1.28 million that took in a Shark-Red Wings hockey game on ESPN back in 2002. I know, it's weird seeing "ESPN" and "hockey" talked about in the same paragraph, but I promise that the two entities used to have a somewhat friendly relationship.
The release also mentions that through four games in 2013, NBC Sports Network is averaging 507,000 viewers per contest. That number might not sound all that impressive, but it's a 53% rise when compared to the numbers from the same time period during the 2011-12 season.
These numbers are enormous in the world of hockey. Fans are watching games and following teams that aren't even playing in their own market. If this sort of momentum continues, NBC should be pleased with the initial returns on their 10-year, $2 billion contract that they signed with the NHL in April of 2011.