We kid Versus because we love ... well, love is still a little strong. Point is that the NHL's cable television home set a new record for household ratings with the Pittsburgh Penguins/Detroit Red Wings game on Tuesday night.
According to Steve Lepore of Puck the Media, the game garnered a 0.5 national rating; tying it with Detroit's season-opener against the Leafs for the highest ever for Versus. Locally, the game earned a 5.8 in Pittsburgh and a 3.3 in Detroit, making Versus the No. 1 cable network in both markets on that night. Take that, Rachel Maddow!
What this proves is the power of cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Philadelphia to move the needle on national ratings. But it also proves that a compelling storyline and some legitimate star power can attract a casual fan to hockey on television.
It's the same thing we saw in last year's Stanley Cup finals with these same teams. Where the NHL, and ostensibly its television partners through the years, have failed is in creating intrigue around other teams and other matchups.
One more NHL/television post worth your attention today: The fact that the Bowl Championship Series may be moving completely to cable. Sports Media Watch mentions the Stanley Cup finals, currently in an amicable deal between the NHL and NBC. Money quote: "Should the Stanley Cup Finals move back to ESPN, as has been rumored, it is unlikely games would air on ABC." Huh.