The Chicago Blackhawks have officially crossed over from regional fad to a national, general sports curiosity.
Their dramatic, shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon drew a 1.6 overnight on NBC, according to NBC Sports. The game, excluding Winter Classics, is the best rating ever for a single-game (i.e. non-regional, a la opening day) broadcast on the network. It's the highest-rated game ever in the Game of the Week era.
The game drew a 9.7 rating in Chicago, the best rating for a Blackhawks game all season on any network. Other than the Wrigley Field-hosted Winter Classic (11.8) it was the best rating ever for a Hawks regular season game on NBC. Given that Chicago is the third-largest television market in the country, Blackhawks ratings are now approaching a Pittsburgh/Buffalo-type mania. The rivalry also pumped up the Detroit market to an 8.9 rating. For comparison, Feb. 10's Kings-Red Wings game on NBC drew a 7.4 in Detroit, which had been the highest-rated Red Wings game in Detroit on NBC since early 2011.
Returning to NBC nationally, the game was up 60 percent from last year's comparable matchup, Boston vs. NY Rangers on Mar. 4, 2012, which scored a 1.0 overnight. NBC follows up this exciting, dramatic, highly-rated game with... Rangers and Capitals next Sunday. Well, we will always have this Sunday.
2013 NHL on NBC overnights
Jan. 19 - Regional Coverage (Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, 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