The ratings numbers are in for the first round of the 2019 NHL playoffs, and they’re quite good. As per NBC, the first round wound up being the most-watched in seven years across the board, with the cable numbers the best they’ve been in 25 years:
On the strength of 10 overtime games, three Game 7s and two improbable sweeps, NBC Sports’ presentation of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs across the networks of NBCUniversal delivered the most-watched First Round in seven years, according to Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics. First Round coverage across NBC Sports’ cable platforms produced the most-watched First Round on cable in 25 years and ranks as the second-best First Round on cable on record (since 1994). The First Round milestones were punctuated by three Game 7s, including last night’s Hurricanes-Capitals series finale on NBCSN, which is now the most-watched First Round cable game on record.
Across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, the 45 Stanley Cup Playoff First Round games averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 778,000 viewers, making it the most-watched First Round in seven years (2012; 936,000), NBC Sports’ third-most watched First Round ever (since 2006), and up one percent vs. last year (769,000).
NBC Sports’ cable coverage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round across NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, averaged a TAD of 673,000 viewers, up 18% vs. last year (572,000) and making it the second-most watched First Round on cable on record (1994; 702,000; ESPN networks).
That’s definitely impressive. Of course, some of that’s thanks to Total Audience Delivery capturing some elements that weren’t previously counted (including streaming viewership), and some of it’s thanks to factors outside of league or network control, especially the overtimes. Overtimes tend to be quite good for games’ overall average audience, with more people tuning in for close third periods and overtime frames (unless it goes to three, four or five overtimes, where there’s sometimes a drop-off), and the strong ratings NBCSN drew for the Carolina Hurricanes’ double-overtime Game 7 win over the Washington Capitals Wednesday (post-game handshake line seen above) provide some evidence there. Here’s more from their release on those ratings:
Last night’s double-overtime Game 7 — in which the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, 4-3 — averaged a TAD of 1.750 million viewers, making it the most-watched First Round cable game on record, up 18% vs. NBCSN’s previous record, set by last year’s Maple Leafs-Bruins Game 7 (1.484 million; NBCSN), and up 16% vs. the previous overall record (1.514 million; 2000 Game 7 Sharks-Blues; ESPN).
Game 7 peaked at 2.522 million TV-only viewers at the end of the first overtime (10:45-11 p.m. ET) and powered NBCSN to its most-watched primetime weeknight (1.716 million viewers; 8-11 p.m. ET) since last year’s Stanley Cup Final Game 2 between Washington and Vegas on May 30 (3.678 million).
We’ll see if the second round delivers as many close games and as many overtimes, and how it compares in the ratings. (And that may be especially interesting with some less well-known teams involved.) But the first round certainly produced good numbers for NBC’s networks, especially with those overtime frames.