New York Rangers Stadium Series Feb 18, 2024; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers players celebrate after defeating the New York Islanders during the overtime period of a Stadium Series ice hockey game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing an impressive year for the NHL on ABC and ESPN, the league drew its strongest regular season viewership under its new media rights deal over the weekend.

Per a Wednesday release from ESPN, the Rangers’ 6-5 overtime win over the Islanders at MetLife Stadium averaged 1.57 million viewers. That’s good for the most-watched game of the 2023-24 season to date, and the most-watched regular season game on a Disney network since the NHL returned to the company in the fall of 2021.

Among all live sports on Sunday, the Stadium Series ranked fourth in viewership, behind the NBA All-Star Game, the final round of the Genesis Open, and Purdue-Ohio State.

The game also ranks as the most-watched game so far this season. The previous top mark came during the season’s first week when ESPN’s broadcast of Blackhawks-Penguins averaged 1.431 million viewers for Connor Bedard’s NHL debut. The Stadium Series game also outdrew January’s Winter Classic, the NHL’s long-time regular season kingpin, which averaged 1.10 million viewers on TNT and truTV.

On Saturday, ABC aired an NHL tripleheader, capped off with another Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Devils. Kings-Bruins started the tripleheader with 823,000 viewers, followed by 759,000 viewers for Oilers-Stars. The Stadium Series closed the day with 1.13 million viewers, flat compared to last season. There were no corresponding afternoon games in 2023.

News is also positive for ESPN’s NHL coverage as a whole. After being up 44% season-to-date last month, viewership for the company’s coverage of live NHL games is up 41% with an extra month’s worth of games under its belt.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.