NHL TV ratings 2013: Emotional Sabres/Bruins game draws large numbers for NBC Sports Network

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

NBCSN drew its fourth-highest viewership ever for an NHL regular-season game with the dramatic Wednesday night game.

The first major sporting event in the city of Boston since the events of Monday drew a lot of curious eyeballs to what would have typically been a fairly buzzed about NHL rivalry in the first place.

The emotional game between the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins drew 847,000 viewers to NBC Sports Network, marking their fourth-most watched NHL regular season game, dating back to 2005 (NBCSN records include telecasts from 2005-06 on OLN and 2006-2011 on VERSUS). The game peaked with 1.1 million viewers at 10 p.m. ET, when the Sabres took a 3-2 win over the Bruins in a shootout. NBCSN was a top 10 cable network for the evening among Men 18-49 and Men 25-54, key NHL demographics.

Both local markets were engaged in the game. In Boston, the game received a 7.9 rating, the third-highest rated Bruins regular season game ever on the network, and highest to not involve a game against the Montreal Canadiens. The game scored a 9.0 in the smaller, but similarly hockey-mad Buffalo. NBC Sports Network was the number one network in both markets during the game.

The Wednesday Night Rivalry series has been a big success story for NBCSN. The games have averaged 662,000 viewers and improved the network's Wednesday NHL broadcasts by 49 percent over the 2011-12 season. NBCSN has averaged 415,000 viewers through 49 total games this season, up 25 percent from the 2011-12 average.

More in the NHL:

Bruins fans sing emotional national anthem

Six (!) outdoor games in 2014

Jimmy Howard’s case for the Vezina

The best of our hockey network

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