So, about those ratings

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

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.

Game 2

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.



  1. Thanks Versus! Can I get an Avery stick, pleaseeeeeee?

  2. And thus concludes our contractually obligated Versus knob-gobble.

    Seriously, though, their actual game presentation is pretty good. And it’s a terrific Finals matchup. Not even HD could have saved Tampa-Calgary, ratings-wise.

  3. I hate these ratings. So misleading. Any year a Canadian team is in the finals the US ratings will be low. Throw in a SoCal team as well last year and the ratings are doomed. Of course the ratings are up this year. I can’t bear to watch the Vs. broadcast. I forego the HD Vs. broadcast for the standard def CBC feed. How many people in Detroit do you think do the same thing? Come on, you guys can do better than this.

  4. HDTV can only mean positive things for the NHL (old people can actually see the puck!), while the league is already starting to dominate new media.

  5. @ Rocco: I caught a couple of early-round CBC games on Center Ice. I felt like I was watching a rebroadcast of “classic” games from 1987 or so. I will grant that CBC has better announcing teams, for the most part. But frankly, I learned long ago to tune out the announcers for just about any sporting event. It’s like when people get riled up about Joe Buck doing baseball games…don’t listen to him.

    I’ll also concede that CBC (and TSN) have better studio shows. But again, I don’t watch those. There’s a reason I have 250 channels, and listening to a bunch of guys spend 15 minutes telling me what I just spent 45 minutes watching isn’t one of them.

  6. Rocco,

    I suffered through a bunch of CBC Games on Center Ice this year. You may not like the VS announcers, but there’s no way you can enjoy the CBC on-ice product more.

    As far as the numbers, there’s numerous reasons for the uptick in numbers. Most of which, of course, is two American teams in the finals. But as you said, a bunch of people in Detroit watch the CBC feed. So your point is rendered moot.

    The fact is Versus has been steadily getting better, and fans are tuning in to hockey again. After baseball had their strike, it took 5 or 6 years before fans came back. Hockey is starting to enter that window. It’s always a good thing to show fans flocking back to a sport.

  7. I’m just seeing a connection here…MYFO went red and black, Versus logo is red and black…coincidnce or conspiracy?

  8. I would much rather hear VS announcers speak of birth announcements and see HD than watch fuzzy CBC for sure.

  9. Versus beats NBC’s weekend coverage by miles! The play by play on NBC is non existant and then their commentary SUCKS. I hope it stays on versus for a long time.

  10. I do enjoy the CBC on-ice product more. Maybe I just get a clear enough picture. Also, on CBC you can actually hear the crowd. Vs. is getting better, but NBC is just brutal. Who gave Mike Milbury a job? And with either I can’t listen to Emrick. I like having a good play-by-play voice to go with the game. And I didn’t say people in Detroit watch CBC. I asked. I don’t know how many. Do they count in the ratings anyway? Not trying to be a dick, but the comparison in ratings to last year is misleading. It’s definitely good that it’s getting better though. Does prefering Bucci & Melrose (they did some NCAA games) to Emrick & Olczyk make me a bad person?

  11. No.

    Lighting puppies on fire made you a bad person.

  12. I would never. Only cats.

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