The Buffalo Sabres played some pug fugly hockey this year in the name of tanking for a top draft pick.  Just how ludicrously tragic was it?  The home fans Buffalo were cheering the team getting beat at home so they could ensure a Top 2 pick.  In that regard – mission accomplished.  The Sabres are guaranteed one of the two elite draft prospects in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.  And you know what?  The Buffalo hockey fans deserve it because of their support for the team and the NHL.

Sabres fans have had to suffer through moribund hockey, but they’ve still been tuning in.  In an accomplishment that shouldn’t be downplayed in spite of the losses racked up by the local team, Buffalo led all local markets for games on NBC/NBCSN this year with a 1.1 household rating.  (It also explains why there were so many Sabres games on the network in spite of all the losing.)  Buffalo topped the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston, and Chicago to claim the top spot.  Perhaps Sabres fans were watching with interest levels raised because they wanted their team to finish with the worst record in the league that badly.  Who knew tanking could be so captivating!

NBC released the Top 10 markets for their games this year on NBCSN, NBC, and the two combined networks in the tables below.

Rank Market HH rtg
1 Buffalo 1.01
2 Boston 0.88
3 Pittsburgh 0.84
4 Minneapolis 0.82
5 St. Louis 0.72
6 Providence 0.62
7 Chicago 0.53
8 Tampa 0.46
9 Philadelphia 0.45
10 Washington DC 0.40


NBC Only
Rank Market HH rtg
1 Chicago 3.42
2 Pittsburgh 3.33
3 St. Louis 2.55
4 Buffalo 2.30
5 Boston 1.89
6 Providence 1.71
7 Detroit 1.64
8 Philadelphia 1.55
9 Minneapolis 1.31
10 Washington DC 1.30


NBC/NBCSN Combined
Rank Market HH rtg
1 Buffalo 1.17
2 Pittsburgh 1.15
3 Boston 1.00
4 St. Louis 0.95
5 Chicago 0.90
6 Minneapolis 0.88
7 Providence 0.75
8 Philadelphia 0.59
9 Detroit 0.54
10 Washington DC 0.51

As far as the network’s national ratings overall for the regular season, the peacock averaged 490,000 viewers over 103 games on NBC and NBCSN. For NBCSN games, that number was 349k average viewers, down 1% versus last year.  The network says it’s the second most-watched full regular season of NHL action behind the 2013-2014 campaign.  Hopefully ratings for the league will only go up next year.  We know they probably will in Buffalo.

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