NBC's First WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY is Most-Watched NHL Game in Network History
Last night's inaugural Wednesday Night Rivalry game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers from Madison Square Garden was watched by 956,000 viewers (0.53 HH rating), making it the most-watched NHL regular-season game in the network's history*, dating back to the 2005-06 season. The previous record was set on opening night last season when 874,000 viewers (0.51 HH) tuned in to see the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
The contest (7:30-10:12 p.m. ET), won by the Rangers, 4-3, in overtime, was also the most-watched NHL regular-season game on any cable channel in 11 years, since ESPN drew 1.28 million for Sharks-Red Wings in 2002 (1/23/02). Last night's game peaked in the second period with 1.09 million viewers from 8:45-9 p.m. ET.
Locally, New York scored a 2.07 HH rating, the market's highest-ever rating for an NHL regular-season game on NBC Sports Network. Boston received a 6.94 HH rating, the second-highest regular-season Bruins game ever on NBC Sports Network, behind only last season's opening night game against the Flyers (7.39 HH rating). NBC Sports Network was the No. 1 rated network overall in Boston from 7:30-10:15 p.m. ET, and the No. 2 cable network in New York during that time.
Through four games this season, NBC Sports Network is averaging 507,000 viewers, up 53% compared to the 2011-12 season average of 332,000, and up 27% compared to the first four games last season (398,000).
*NBC Sports Network was previously known as VERSUS (2006-2011) and OLN before that.
UPCOMING NBC Sports Network COVERAGE
NBC Sports Network resumes its NHL coverage this Sunday, Jan. 27, when the St. Louis Blues Face Off against the Minnesota Wild at 8 p.m. ET. Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (Inside-the-Glass analyst) will call the action in St. Louis. On Tues., Jan. 29, Strader will team with Brian Engblom (Inside-the-Glass analyst) as they travel to Pittsburgh to call the N.Y. Islanders at the Penguins at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Next week's Wednesday Night Rivalry will see the Minnesota Wild host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. Both teams are currently atop their respective divisions. Emmy Award-winning play-by-play announcer Mike 'Doc' Emrick, Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire ('Inside-the-Glass' analyst) will be on-site at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
In addition to the NHL, NBC Sports Network will resume Friday Night Ice, its college hockey programming, tomorrow night when Cornell hosts No. 7 Yale at 7:30 p.m. ET, from Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y. Dan Parkhurst will serve as play-by-play announcer alongside 'Inside-the-Glass' analyst Ken Hodge.
NBC Sports Network's Upcoming Hockey Schedule (all times ET, subject to change):
Fri., Jan. 25: No. 7 Yale at Cornell (college), 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 27: Minnesota at St. Louis, 8:00 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 29: N.Y. Islanders at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 30: Chicago at Minnesota, 8:00 p.m.