NBC didn't have any football this weekend, but they (and NBC Sports Network) did just fine with two of the more so-called niche sports.
The NHL Game of the Week returned to NBC on Sunday and was a pretty big success. The game between last year's Stanley Cup Finalists, the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks, drew a 1.4 overnight rating. Outside of the Winter Classics, the game was the third-highest rated NHL regular season game ever on NBC.
The only games to top it in the history of the NHL on NBC were last year's two season-opening games in January and the aforementioned Winter Classics. Chicago and Boston (despite the Patriots) were the top two local markets, with Milwaukee, Providence and Minneapolis rounding out the top five.
Also on Sunday, NBC had a high-profile Chelsea-Manchester United match on NBCSN. That game drew 1.01 million viewers, the first NBCSN-televised match to draw over a million, and the second-most watched game in EPL history on American cable. To give you an idea of how high that number is, no regular season NHL or EPL game had ever drawn over a million on NBCSN before so it's a bit of a landmark moment for the network.
Meanwhile, the Liverpool-Aston Villa drew an 0.8 overnight on NBC Saturday, while the network also drew a 1.5 on Saturday with their figure skating coverage. They'll likely draw an absurdly high number for the Pro Bowl, but NBC showed it can be fine without football this weekend.