The NHL has made consistent effort to turn their opening night into a somewhat small-scale edition of what the NFL does. With events such as Kings of Leon playing a pregame concert in Montreal, and the banner-raising in Chicago, they have certainly succeeded in those efforts. Perhaps, then, it is a bonus that the league's opening night has progressively turned into a larger and larger ratings draw.

NBCSN's first telecast of the season, a high-scoring showdown between the champion Chicago Blackhawks and Alexander Ovechkin's Washington Capitals, drew an 0.70 rating and 935,000 viewers via Son of the Bronx. The rating was a record for NBCSN's opening night telecasts (NBC televised the opening game in the truncated 2012-13 season) and the viewership figures made it the second-most watched NHL regular season game in network history.

In the local markets, Chicago naturally dominated, with a 7.1 rating. According to NBC, that's the highest-rated regular season game ever on NBCSN. In Washington, the game hit a respectable 2.2, though it did get beaten by the competing NL Wild Card Game (3.0).

Viewership for NHL Opening Night on cable since 2003:

2003 (ESPN): Regional Coverage (NJ-BOS, CHI-MIN, ANA-DAL): 476,000

2005 (OLN): NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia: 353,000

2006 (VERSUS): Buffalo vs. Carolina: 337,000
2006 (VERSUS): Dallas vs. Colorado: 301,000

2007 (VERSUS): Anaheim vs. Detroit: 421,000 2007 (VERSUS): Dallas vs. Colorado: 289,000

2008 (VERSUS): Toronto vs. Detroit: 573,000
2008 (VERSUS): Boston vs. Colorado: 361,000

2009 (VERSUS): Washington vs. Boston: 501,000
2009 (VERSUS): San Jose vs. Colorado: 330,000

2010 (VERSUS): Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh: 730,000
2010 (VERSUS): Chicago vs. Colorado: 430,000

2011 (VERSUS): Philadelphia vs. Boston: 874,000
2011 (VERSUS): Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver: 342,000

2013 (NBCSN): Washington vs. Chicago: 935,000

5 most watched NHL regular season games on NBCSN*

1. Boston vs. NY Rangers (1/23/13): 956,000
2. Washington vs. Chicago (10/1/13): 935,000
3. Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh (2/20/13): 901,000
4. Boston vs. Philadelphia (10/6/11): 874,000
5. Buffalo vs. Boston (4/17/13): 847,000

*-includes VERSUS and OLN  

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.