Despite a lengthy lockout that threatened to ice the entire
season, NBC Sports Network said that the condensed 2013 NHL season was the
most-watched since the channel began airing games in 2005-06.
NBC Sports Network averaged 332,000 viewers for this season,
up 18% over last year, and was the most-watched regular-season on cable since
1993-94 (ESPN, which averaged 474,000). The new Wednesday Night Rivalry
series averaged 646,000 viewers over the 14 games and also gave NBCSN its two
most-watched games in network history with the Jan. 23 Boston Bruins-New York
Rangers game (956,000 viewers) and the Feb. 20 Philadelphia Flyers-Pittsburgh
Penguins matchup (901,000).
"Despite unique programming challenges, NHL viewership
grew this year and set numerous records and milestones across both NBC and NBC
Sports Network, including a successful new franchise with Wednesday
Night Rivalry," said Jon Miller, president, programming, NBC
Sports and NBC Sports Network. "Considering there was a shortened season,
no Winter Classic and no All-Star programming, these results speak well of the
NHL's popularity and the strength of our partnership."
Final NHL regular-season viewership on NBC will
be available Thursday, but this season (excluding the Winter Classic, which was
not played due to the lockout) is expected to be the most-watched on the
network since 2005-06, the first year NBC began airing NHL games. Through 13
games, regular-season viewership on NBC is up 15%.