A week ago, NBC had hit a new peak with the NHL, as the then-streaking Blackhawks and competitive Red Wings drew the network's best single-game ratings ever for a non-Winter Classic telecast. This week, things fell back to earth.
Sunday's Rangers vs. Capitals game drew just an 0.8 overnight rating on NBC Sunday, down 50 percent from last week's Chicago-Detroit broadcast, and easily the lowest-rated game of the season on the network. Daylight savings time likely played a role in the game's low ratings, as Pierre McGuire pointed out the game really felt more like an 11:30 a.m. ET start on the east coast. But the Rangers have always had trouble as a national draw despite their cavalcade of stars, and the Capitals have fallen back to earth as a cellar dweller in the Eastern Conference.
The one respite for this contest is that it managed to be even with the comparable game last year, Boston vs. Pittsburgh on Mar. 11, 2012, which drew an 0.8 overnight. That game happened just prior to Sidney Crosby's second return from a concussion. NBC will have Crosby at it's disposal next Sunday when the Bruins and Penguins showdown in what could be an Eastern Conference Final preview. I expect it will draw better than last year's game.
Jan. 19 - Regional Coverage (Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia OR Chicago vs. Los Angeles): 2.0
Jan. 20 - Philadelphia vs. Buffalo: 1.4
Feb. 3 - Pittsburgh vs. Washington: 1.2
Feb. 10 - Los Angeles vs. Detroit: 1.1
Feb. 17 - Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo: 1.3
Feb. 17 - Los Angeles vs. Chicago: 1.3
Mar. 3 - Chicago vs. Detroit: 1.6
Mar. 10 - NY Rangers vs. Washington: 0.8