NBC Sports Group is enjoying a strong ratings shift with the opening round of the 2012 National Hockey League Playoffs.
Through April 19, the first nine days of coverage of the conference quarterfinals, NBC Sports Network has netted a 26% audience increase to 676,000 viewers from 535,000, according to Nielsen data. The Game 4 matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins on April 18 drew 1.03 million viewers.
For its part, NBC, as it headed into this weekend, averaged a 1.5 final rating and 2.3 million viewers for its first three playoff telecasts on April 14 and 15, up 50% and 44%, respectively, from the first weekend of telecasts last year (two games).
Over 21 million viewers had watched the NHL Playoffs on NBC, NBCSN, and CNBC through the first eight days of the postseason (April 18), 49% amelioration from the same period last year, when 14.1 million tuned in.
As part of the NHL-NBC Sports Group's 10-year, $2 billion contract, every playoff game is being televised nationally for the first time. During the first round, regional sports networks are also airing the action, save for the games that run on NBC, which are fully exclusive. Starting with the second round, that will be the case for the NBC Sports Group vehicles for the balance of the postseason.