Ratings Roundup: NBC, MSG, NESN Draw Big for Stanley Cup Playoffs Coverage

NBC Sports Group’s first first five days 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage (through April 21) saw big viewership and consumption increases (across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NBC Sports Live Extra streaming). Overall cable coverage (NBCSN and CNBC), which is blacked out in the home markets during the first round, is averaging 521,000 viewers (14 games), up 63% compared to the first five days of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs (320,000 for 17 games). NBCSN averaged  621,000 viewers (10 games), up 61% vs. 2013 (386,000 for 10 games). With 850,000 viewers, Saturday’s Columbus-Pittsburgh Game 2 ranks as NBCSN’s most-watched game in the first week of the playoffs on record. The contest peaked at 1.2 million viewers from 10:15-10:30 p.m. ET. In its third year of televising Stanley Cup Playoff games, CNBC is averaging 295,000 viewers (four games), its best ever through five days and up 25% vs. 2013 (236,000 for seven games).

As for the mother Peacock, Game 2 of the Blackhawks-Blues (3-6:30 p.m. ET, OT) on Saturday averaged 1.855 million viewers (according to final Nielsen ratings), up 52% from the comparable game in 2013 (NYR-Was, 1.217 viewers, 5/4/13). Overnights for Sunday’s playoff doubleheader were both up vs. the comparable games in 2013 with Game 2 of Flyers-Rangers (12-3 p.m. ET) delivering a 1.6 overnight, up 14% vs. Penguins-Islanders Game 3 (1.4, 5/5/13), and Red Wings-Bruins Game 2 (3-6 p.m. ET) producing a 1.8 rating in the metered markets, up 20% vs. Blackhawks-Wild Game 3 (1.5, 5/5/13).

NBC Sports Live Extra’s live streaming coverage of the Cup has delivered 18.8 million minutes, 206,000 unique viewers, 508,000 visits and 1.22 million live starts. Those figures are up 532% (2.98 million minutes), 482% (36,000 uniques), 469% (89,000 visits), and 739% (145,000 live starts), respectively, vs. the first five days of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Games are averaging 1.11 million minutes consumed, 26,000 unique viewers, 30,000 visits and 72,000 live starts in 2014. Game 1 of Blackhawks-Blues, which went into triple overtime, has generated the most consumption with 2.7 million minutes…

…It’s not just national Stanley Cup Playoffs ratings that have seen a jump, however, as NESN earned a 12.7 average household rating in the Boston DMA (20 share) for Tuesday’s 3-0 Bruins win over Detroit, which marks the best Game 3 rating in NESN history and the second best rating for a game that was not in a series clinching scenario. The only game that was not a clinching scenario that garnered a higher rating was a double overtime Game 5 vs. Montreal in 2011, which averaged a 12.9 HH rating. The 12.7 HH rating on Tuesday now stands as the 10th best Bruins playoff rating in NESN history. NESN’s highest-rated Bruins game ever was Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals (4/25/12) which garnered a 19.6 HH rating (31 Share) in the Boston DMA…

…Tuesday’s MSG Networks telecast of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers averaged a 3.61 Nielsen rating among Men 25-54, making it the top-rated broadcast or cable program in the key demographic in the New York market on Tuesday. The Game 3 telecast was also the highest rated cable and sports program in New York among Adults 25-54 with a 2.22 average rating, and the highest-rated cable program among households with a 3.42 average rating. Through two games on MSG Networks during the 2013-14 playoffs, the Rangers are averaging a 2.77 household rating, up 19% compared to the first two games of the 2012-13 postseason (2.33 HH)…

…The UEFA Champions League semifinals kicked off on FOX Sports 1 this week, leading to a viewership record on Tuesday (4/22) that was quickly topped on Wednesday (4/23). Wednesday’s first leg match featuring Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and defending European champions Bayern Munich, attracted 511,000 viewers, setting a new record for a UEFA Champions League match on FOX Sports 1. It is the biggest audience for a UEFA Champions League semifinal on any FOX channel in two years (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, 2012 second leg – 627,000 on FX). Tuesday’s 0-0 draw between Barclays Premier League team Chelsea and Atletico Madrid scored 450,000 viewers, which stood as a record for a day and is now the second most-watched UEFA Champions League match televised by FOX Sports 1…

…The average Total Viewers for YES Network’s 2014 Yankees telecasts through last night’s game telecast is up 38% year-over-year in the New York DMA.  Several key demos for YES’ Yankees telecasts are also up significantly year-over-year, including Males 25-54 (up 43%), Persons 25-54 (up 34%) and Males 18-49 (45%). Last night’s Yankees-Red Sox telecast on YES averaged a 4.75 TV HH rating (467,000 Total Viewers) in the New York DMA, making it the second-highest-rated Yankees game of the season on YES, behind the April 4 Yankees-Toronto game telecast (Masahiro Tanaka’s first Yankees start, which averaged a 4.85 TV HH rating and 486,000 Total Viewers)

In addition, YES Network’s Nets-Raptors Game 2 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs telecast on Tuesday night generated a 2.35 average TV HH rating in the New York DMA, good for an average of 259,000 total viewers, making it the second highest-rated and second most-viewed Nets telecast ever on YES.  The highest-rated and most-viewed Nets telecast ever on YES is its February 5, 2013 Lakers-Nets telecast which did a 3.08 rating, which translates to 299,000 average total viewers…

…Prior to that, the Raptors’ opening game against the Nets in the First Round attracted an average audience of 539,000 viewers on TSN (according to overnight data from BBM Canada) – making it the most-watched Raptors game on English television in Canada in 12 years. Saturday’s telecast ranks as TSN’s second most-watched Raptors game ever and the team’s most-watched game in Canada since 2002. Overall, more than 2.17 million unique viewers tuned in to TSN to watch the network’s exclusive coverage of the Raptors opening playoff game. Audience levels peaked late in the fourth quarter as the Nets secured a 94-87 victory…

…ESPN’s presentation of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Frozen Four – two semifinals on Thursday, April 10 on ESPN2 and the championship game on Saturday, April 12 on ESPN – averaged 471,000 viewers, a 56% increase over the 2013 Men’s Frozen Four (301,000 viewers).  The Frozen Four Championship Game, in which Union College defeated the University of Minnesota for its first NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey National Championship, averaged 717,000 viewers, a 33% increase over 2013’s Division I Frozen Four Championship Game which featured Yale defeating Quinnipiac (539,000). The three telecasts of the 2014 Frozen Four combined to reach 6.6 million viewers. WatchESPN’s simulcast of the three telecasts saw a significant spike in viewership –  2.24 million minutes watched, an 85% increase over 2013 (1.21 million minutes). Additionally, the Men’s Frozen Four debut of ESPN3 Surround – ice level cameras with natural sound — generated an additional 607,000 minutes watched throughout the three games. Minneapolis-St. Paul generated a 10.6 rating Saturday night, the highest-rating for hockey in the market (October 2013-Present). Denver (1.3) was second…

…Arnie, Golf Channel’s three-night, primetime documentary on Arnold Palmer, is now the most-watched original production in Golf Channel history. From April 13, through April 15, 1.75 million unique viewers tuned into all or part of Arnie.  Each installment of Arnie was Golf Channel’s most-watched program of the day and each bested its previous year’s timeslot by no less than 100% and up to 295%. The first installment of Arnie garnered 471,000 viewers – nearly doubling Golf Channel’s previous most-watched original film, War By The Shore (241,000 viewers – September 2012), on 1991 Ryder Cup. It also represented the most-watched premiere of any Golf Channel original program on record. Arnie’s second hour earned 341,000 average viewers (up 124% over last year) and the final hour of Arnie attracted 320,000 average viewers (up 295%)…

…ESPN’s coverage of the WNBA Draft on April 14 averaged 413,000 viewers (P2+) on ESPN2, making it the most-watched WNBA Draft on the network. Viewership was up nine% from last year’s audience of 379,000. The telecast is also the second-most viewed WNBA Draft ever on ESPN/ESPN2 – 14 telecasts dating back to 2001 (2004 on ESPN averaged 601,000 viewers). The primetime telecast saw Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike as the No. 1 overall pick by the Connecticut Sun. The top metered markets for the 2014 WNBA Draft include Hartford-New Haven (1.9 rating), Lexington (1.7), and Las Vegas (1.0).