NBC Sets NHL First Playoff Round Audience Record

1:55 PM PST 04/29/2011 by Etan Vlessing
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The National Hockey League's opening Stanley Cup playoff round games draws record average audiences on NBC and Versus stateside.

TORONTO – The National Hockey League’s post-season is scoring big audience gains for North American broadcasters, the pro hockey league reported Friday.

The NHL said NBC recorded the best opening Stanley Cup playoff round viewership in seven years, averaging 1.9 million viewers over four games, up 12% from last year.

NBC, which just signed a new ten-year deal with the NHL, last Sunday saw its Game 6 Philadelphia Flyers-Buffalo Sabres game broadcast on The NHL on NBC average a series high 2.57 million viewers.

And over on Versus, also part of the NBC/Comcast group, coverage of the NHL’s quarter-final round averaged a record 624,000 viewers, up 8% from last year’s first round  average of 595,000 viewers.

In Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. also posted impressive viewership for the opening playoff round by snagging an average 2.148 million viewers over 22 game broadcasts.

This year, two Canadian NHL teams contended in the opening Stanley Cup round on the CBC schedule, with the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks game 7 going to overtime before the Canadian team won led to an average 3.827 million viewers.

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