Apparently, fans remembered that the NHL exists this off-season. Ratings are on the rise, and Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Versus broke all sorts of records for the channel. After the jump are some interesting bits of trivia concerning the highest hockey numbers on cable since 2002.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night gathered a 1.8 cable rating from Nielsen Media Research, which equates out to about 2.32 million viewers. As of Monday morning, that was the highest-rated sports event ever on Versus. The only event that topped it was the 2.1 rating from Lance Armstrong’s final Tour De France victory in 2005, when the channel was the Outdoor Life Network.
In the two local markets, the game got a 8.4 rating in Detroit (remember that there was also a Pistons playoff home game and a Tigers home game that night) and an astounding 19.0 rating in Pittsburgh, beating even regular network stations in the ratings for that time slot.
The ratings marked a 157% increase over last year’s Finals Game 1.
Remember a moment ago when I said “Until Monday morning, that was the highest-rated sports event ever on Versus”? That’s because Game 2 beat that record. Game 2 brought in a 1.9 rating and 2.5 million viewers. The combined viewership of Games 1 and 2 on Verus this year represent a 273 percent increase in viewership over last year’s Games 1 and 2 on Versus.
Locally, Detroit got an 11.7 rating, making it the #2 rated television network in all of Detroit at that time, and Pittsburgh got a 21.3 rating, making it the #1 rated television network in all of Pittsburgh. Both ratings were records for their cities to ever watch Versus.
Taken into account that a great number of people don’t get Versus on their usual cable lineup (I know I have to pay extra to get it, and have to pay an additional fee to get it in HD as well), and these numbers are astounding. Thanks to some fantastic marketing and a drastic improvement in their product and the addition of High Definition, Versus has come storming back from the edge of the cable universe.