The numbers are in for TNT’s regular season NHL debut on Wednesday, and the doubleheader’s viewership was….fine?
In the early window, Rangers-Capitals averaged 817,000 viewers, while in the late window, Blackhawks-Avalanche averaged 522,000 viewers, per ShowBuzz Daily. That’s an average of 670,000 viewers for the window, and the 40 minute pregame show (a commercial-free affair featuring Charles Barkley) averaged 430,000 viewers. On Tuesday, ESPN’s coverage averaged 884,000 viewers despite competition from the MLB Postseason.
Other sports on Wednesday night going up against the NHL included the WNBA Finals on ESPN (789,000), a USMNT World Cup qualifier on ESPN2 (651,000), and an NBA preseason game on ESPN (509,000).
Turner’s release notes that the early game is the “most-watched game to ever air on the second night of nationally televised NHL coverage.”
The natural comparison that will be brought up is AEW Dynamite, which aired Wednesdays on TNT prior to the NHL’s debut. Dynamite, moving to TBS in January, averaged 1.053 million viewers last week in a two-hour window.
All in all, I think Turner is pretty happy with its NHL regular season debut. We’ll need to see if both Turner and ESPN can maintain their viewership numbers over the course of the NHL regular season, but if they do, the league should be satisfied.