We've still got a couple of months to go, but so far, the NHL on NBC is in a boon period with this shortened season.
Through four broadcasts (five games with the regional split on opening day), the NHL on NBC is averaging a 1.1 rating and 1.86 million viewers per telecast. Hockey isn't setting the world on fire, but this quick-paced, urgent season has apparently lit a fire under fans. The 1.1 rating is up 22 percent from this point last year, and up 22 percent from last season's overall NHL on NBC average (0.9), not counting the Winter Classic.
On the viewership side, 1.86 million viewers is a pretty significant increase. It's up 36 percent from this time last year (1.37 million) and up 39 percent from last season's overall average (1.34 million), again, not counting the Winter Classic. The league has added about a half million people to it's national Game of the Week, which isn't nothing.
Will that average be maintained with Hockey Day in America? Hard to say. The NHL is going from three regional games in the first two years of this experiment to one in the early window, so ratings may go down from the 1.4 last year. That said, I don't know if you've heard this, but hockey is fairly popular in Pittsburgh and Buffalo, and those two teams have seven of the top 30 point getters and five of the top 20 goal scorers in the National Hockey League, so anything could happen. As for that late game? Who knows. Boston and Minnesota are wonderful hockey markets, but it was out-of-conference and the Wild were out of the playoff chase. I personally think Kings-Hawks, with no basketball to impede it, stands a pretty good chance.
Enjoy your Hockey Weekend Across America, everyone.