As was the case in the NBA and NFL last year, the NHL owners’ lockout has had zero negative effect on the league’s television ratings.
The NHL season opener on NBC, featuring either Blackhawks/Kings or Flyers/Penguins, drew a 1.6 final rating and 2.8 million viewers Saturday afternoon. NBC’s opener last season was Bruins/Red Wings on the day after Thanksgiving, which earned a 0.9 and 1.3 million.
Excluding the Winter Classic, Saturday’s telecast ranks as the highest rated regular season NHL telecast on any network since regional action on ABC in January 2002 (1.7), and the most-viewed since regional coverage on FOX in April 1999 (3.1M).
Prior to this season, the highest regular season NHL rating on NBC (excluding the Winter Classic) was a 1.3.
NBC Sports Network has also gotten off to a strong start. Through Wednesday, NBCSN has averaged 507,000 viewers for NHL coverage, up 27% from the comparable point of last season (398K).
Wednesday’s Bruins/Rangers game earned 956,000 viewers on NBCSN, the most-viewed regular season game on any cable network since January 2002, when Sharks/Red Wings earned 1.3 million on ESPN.
The previous record for a game on NBCSN was set by Flyers/Bruins in October 2011 (874K).