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[04/12/12 - 02:47 PM]
Best NHL Playoff Opening Night in NBC Sports Network History
NBC Sports spins the numbers for Wednesday, April 11.

[via press release from NBC Sports Network]

BEST NHL PLAYOFF OPENING NIGHT IN NBC SPORTS NETWORK HISTORY

Two NBC Sports Network Opening Night Games Up 29% vs. Last Year

Three-Game NBC Sports Network/CNBC Average Up 12% vs. Last Year

Flyers-Penguins is Most-Watched Opening Night Playoff Game in Net's History & Best Opener in Decade

***

NHL regular season watched by 17% more viewers this year on NBC Sports Network; Exclusive Games Viewership Up 6%, Non-Exclusive Up 8%

NHL Game of the Week Viewership Up 13% on NBC

NEW YORK - April 12, 2012 - The NBC Sports Group's opening night presentation of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday - featuring two games on NBC Sports Network and one on NBCUniversal's business channel CNBC -- resulted in the following viewership records and milestones, according to official national ratings data released today by The Nielsen Company:

· The most-watched NHL playoff opening night ever for the NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS)

· A 29% average rating increase on NBC Sports Network vs. last year's opening night

· A 12% average rating increase for all three games on NBC Sports Network and CNBC compared to last year's opening night

· The most-watched opening night playoff game in NBC Sports Network history and the most-watched opening night playoff game in 10 years for Flyers-Penguins, won 4-3 in overtime by Philadelphia, who overcame a 3-0 deficit

"The opening night viewership exceeded our own high expectations," said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. "This new playoff format was part of the plan we brought to the NHL last year when constructed our new 10-year agreement. We are pleased with this early trend, and there is a lot of hockey still to be played. The playoffs are continuing the momentum we established during the regular-season, which saw a 17 percent increase in total audience. These results continue to demonstrate that the appetite for hockey is far from saturated."

BEST OPENING NIGHT EVER: Yesterday's two opening night games on NBC Sports Network - Flyers-Penguins and Kings-Canucks -- averaged a 0.44 rating, up 29% compared to last year's opening night (0.34) and the best opening night in NBC Sports Network's seven-year history (formerly VERSUS) of televising NHL playoff games. The viewership average was 656,000, up 23% compared to last year (534,000). All NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NHL Network first-round playoff games are blacked out in local markets.

Flyers-Penguins: The game posted a 0.55 rating, up 83% from last year's comparable opening night game and making it the most-watched opening night playoff game in NBC Sports Network history, and the most-watched opening night playoff game in 10 years. The game peaked with a 0.75 rating in the 9:45 p.m. ET quarter-hour.

Kings-Canucks: The Kings 4-2 upset win over the top-seeded Canucks in the Western Conference, which began at 10:30 p.m. ET, earned a 0.34 rating, down from a 0.36 for last year's late opening night game.

COMBINED AVERAGE UP 12%: Last night three games, including coverage on CNBC of the Predators 3-2 win over the Red Wings in Nashville, averaged 0.38 rating and 555,000 viewers, up 12% and 4%, respectively, vs. last year's averages (0.40 and 534,000). The Predators-Red Wings game averaged 0.24 with no comparable coverage last year.

***

REGULAR-SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

More viewers watched the 2011-12 NHL regular season on the NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS) than any previous regular season since the channel began televising games in 2005-06. In addition, average viewership for both exclusive and non-exclusive games increased over last year, as did NHL Game of the Week broadcasts on NBC.

NBC Sports Network

Total Audience: NHL regular season games were watched by 15.24 million viewers on NBC Sports Network this year, up 17% compared to last year's 13.08 million (excluding bonus games and the NHL All-Star Game). This season, the first in a new 10-year agreement between the NBC Sports Group and NHL, NBC Sports Network presented 90 regular-season games, compared to 52 last year. Eight of the Top 15 most-watched regular-season games in network history were from this season.

Exclusive & Non-Exclusive: Regular-season games shown during "exclusive" time periods averaged 460,000 viewers, up six percent compared to last season (436,000). Games shown in "non-exclusive" time periods averaged 286,000 viewers, up eight percent compared to last season (265,000). This year, there were 66 non-exclusive games compared to 27 last year, a 144% increase.

First Game: The opening night game of the 2011-12 season featuring the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins hosting the Philadelphia Flyers, delivered 874,000 viewers, making it the most-watched regular-season game ever on NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS), up 20% vs. the previous year's opener, and the most-watched opening night game in a decade.

All-Star: The NHL All-Star Game averaged 1.32 million viewers, making it the second-most watched all-star contest since 2004.

NBC

Every Week: NHL Game of the Week broadcasts on NBC were up 13% in HH rating (0.9 vs. 0.8) and 4% in viewership (1.34 vs. 1.29) compared to last year.

Winter Classic: The 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers from Citizen's Bank Park averaged 3.74 million viewers, making it the fifth-most watched regular-season NHL game since 1975. Viewership for the game was up two percent compared to the last NHL Winter Classic played in the afternoon, the 2010 contest played on New Year's Day at Fenway Park between the Boston Bruins and Flyers, which was watched by 3.68 million.

Hockey Day: NBC Sports' regional coverage during Sunday's Hockey Day in America -- highlighted by the Detroit Red Wings NHL-record 23rd home win in a row, a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks -- tied for the best NHL regular-season rating in eight years (1.3/3), excluding Winter Classics, and was the most-watched (1.94 million) coverage for a non-Winter Classic in six years.

Thanksgiving Tradition: In addition, the NHL and NBC Sports Group launched a new tradition, the Thanksgiving Friday game, when the Boston Bruins hosted the Detroit Red Wings. It was the earliest in a season that an NHL game had ever appeared on NBC.





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