The NHL on NBC drew pretty good ratings for Hockey Day in America, so it shouldn't surprise most of you that local markets had much to do with it, particularly in the early Penguins vs. Sabres game.
For that one, we saw the typically gigantic ratings those cities are now almost accustomed to. In Pittsburgh, the Penguins drew a 15.2/29 rating, meaning nearly 30 percent of the televisions in the Steel City and the surrounding areas watched the Penguins game. The Penguins have been scoring insane ratings all season, but the 15.2 falls short of only the Pens opening day win over the Flyers as far as NBC goes. That game drew a 19.4
While Buffalo was also a far cry from their opening day NBC game (an obese 22.3 rating for Flyers vs. Sabres on Jan. 20), you have to remember that Buffalo is basically a Canadian city placed just beneath the True North, and folks are gonna' tune in en masse up there. The Sabres loss scored a 16.0/30 rating in Buffalo which means that, again, 30 percent of all televisions were tuned in to the game.
The late game of the day featured the Stanley Cup Champion Kings against the undefeated (in regulation) Blackhawks. While Chicago was also capable of big ratings, some big markets across the country helped lift this game to the 1.3 it ended up with.
The Windy City, however, was all aces. They drew a 6.7/14 for the Hawks' 3-2 victory, a regular season record (not counting the Winter Classic) in the market. The Blackhawks just barely edged out their opening day-victory over the Kings on Jan. 19 (6.6) for that title. Having the No. 3 market so activated with it's hockey team is huge for this league.
The Kings, on the other hand, are struggling and didn't get into this game much until late in the second period, which may have stunted ratings in Hollywood. The Los Angeles market drew an 0.9/2 rating, the lowest for a Kings game on NBC so far this season. That includes opening day (1.5) and Feb. 10's 9:30 a.m. PT game against the Red Wings (1.1).
So, with one of the local markets below the national rating (1.3) it stands to reason that a lot of people from other markets tuned in, and that is true. While not spectacular, big cities like New York (1.5), Philadelphia (1.4), Boston (2.0) and Washington (1.5) all gave NBC a big boost for the Kings-Blackhawks game. It should also be noted that, while we don't have the exact numbers, it's pretty safe to say that people in Pittsburgh and Buffalo stuck around for the doubleheader.
What does that mean? It means that fans across the country (or at least in hockey hotbeds of this country) are starting to get into the Hockey Day spirit. New York, the host city for the event, drawing a 1.5 for a completely out-of-market, out-of-conference game is, as it is for Chicago, a sign that people in the city who love hockey are really into it right now. As for Los Angeles... there's still work to be done, but it'd help if the Kings could show up early for one of these NBC games.