The NHL is back on track

Ratings for the NHL Conference Finals airing on NBC over the weekend scored ratings increases from year-ago matchups in 2007.

Last Saturday’s game between the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars earned a 1.5 household rating and 4 share. While that may not seem like much, it is up 25 percent from 2007’s Buffalo Sabres-Ottawa Senators matchup from a year ago. NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit scored a 14.1/34 for the game in Detroit.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers game last Sunday was up 6 percent from the comparable matchup from a year ago (Anaheim-Detroit). NBC affiliate WPXI in Pittsburgh netted a strong 26.1/46 from the game.

Both Detroit and Pittsburgh will meet in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals beginning on Saturday. Ratings are expected to be up from last year’s Anaheim-Ottawa match mainly because of two stronger hockey markets, the popularity of the Red Wings, and the growing interest of hot new superstar Sidney Crosby, who plays for the Penguins.

The first two Stanley Cup games is airing on Versus; the rest are airing on NBC. Detroit viewers without cable or satellite (or Versus) can watch the first two games on CBET-Channel 9, the CBC owned-and-operated station in nearby Windsor, Ontario, Canada. CBC is carrying the entire Stanley Cup Finals.

Thought: The first think tank I wrote on this blog was critical of the NHL, the Blackhawks, and Broadcasters. Wow, what a difference eighteen months make! The NHL’s ratings are up, the Blackhawks are turning it around (by being more fan-friendly, putting a competitive team on the ice, and finally putting all their games on TV), and Chicago broadcasters are making small strides in addressing community concerns (all right, it’s only one thing. Broadcasters still have a lot of work to do.) But what the hey, it’s a hat trick!

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