Long maligned for not transferring well to television, the National Hockey League is experiencing a tremendous rejuvenation. Just a few weeks back, the league signed a lucrative television contract with NBC and Versus, and now reports are indicating first round ratings were the highest they’ve been in nearly a decade. That’s great news for both the NHL and the two networks that recently shelled out a combined two billion.
The nearly two million viewer average represents a twelve percent gain over last season’s opening round, but perhaps even better, game six between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres drew more than two and a half million watches by itself, putting it on par with Canadian viewership. The CBC averaged over two million viewers in the Great White North across twenty-two broadcasts with the network’s high peaking just shy of four million during overtime of the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks’ game seven. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ratings were also up over on Versus with the cable channel’s broadcasts regularly topping six hundred thousand.
So, how did this happen? Well, first and foremost the implementation of HD technology has been a Godsend for National Hockey League. With brighter and clearer pictures, casual fans can finally follow the puck. In addition, enough years have past since the lockout for fans to start forgiving the league for losing an entire season to labor unrest. Of the four major American leagues, the NHL is still decidedly last, but it’s closing the gap and becoming competitive. For those of us who love hockey, this is great news because the uptick should increase the number of televised games and the quality of coverage.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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