Heritage Classic on VERSUS is Most-Watched Regular-Season Game on Cable Featuring Two Canadian Teams on Record
NEW YORK – Feb. 23, 2011 – NBC Sports and VERSUS generated viewership milestones for the combined nine hours of hockey coverage this past Sunday with the inaugural “Hockey Day in America” on NBC followed by the 2011 Heritage Classic on VERSUS.
NBC Sports’ coverage of Penguins-Blackhawks, the second game of “Hockey Day in America” which went head-to-head with the Daytona 500, was watched by 1.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-Winter Classic NHL regular-season game in five years (1/14/06, three-game regional on NBC, 2.0 million). The game also posted a 1.1 rating, tied with last year’s Penguins-Capitals (2/7) for the highest regular-season non-Winter Classic NHL game in four years (3/4/07, three-game regional on NBC, 1.2). The game peaked at a 1.9 rating for its final half hour. Viewership for Sunday’s NHL regional coverage on NBC is not yet available.
Including the Winter Classic, NBC Sports is averaging 2.1 million viewers for its first five measured NHL exposures of 2011, the most through five broadcasts in 14 years. In 1997, Fox averaged 2.8 million for its first five broadcasts.
The 2011 Heritage Classic on VERSUS Sunday night, played between two Canadian teams (Montreal at Calgary) and won in a 4-0 blowout by Calgary, averaged 608,000 viewers, making it the fourth most-watched regular-season game in the network’s history (third best this season). The game, which peaked at over 700,000 viewers between 7:00-7:15 p.m. ET, was the most-watched regular-season game between two Canadian teams on cable since NHL viewership became available by Nielsen in the 1993/94 season. The 608,000 viewers also marks a 95-percent increase from the 2010/11 NHL regular-season average on VERSUS (311,000 viewers). The game garnered a 0.5 HH coverage rating (0.3 US rating).
MOST WATCHED NHL REGULAR-SEASON GAMES IN VERSUS HISTORY (average viewers)
12/14/2010 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia 750,000
10/7/2010 Philadelphia at Pittsburgh 730,000
3/22/2010 Pittsburgh at Detroit 622,000
2/20/2011 2011 Heritage Classic: Montreal at Calgary 608,000
10/9/2008 Toronto at Detroit 577,000
CROSS-CHANNEL PRIORITY: Both “Hockey Day” and the “Heritage Classic” were identified by NBCUniversal’s Marketing Council as cross-channel priorities. They received extensive promotion across NBC Universal’s 20 channels and more than 40 websites. Both events leveraged the newly-expanded resources of the NBC Sports Group by combining the national media assets of NBC Sports and VERSUS and local insight from storied hockey markets like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia served by Comcast SportsNet.
–NBC Sports Group—