NHL on NBC has best Game 1 rating in 11 years

Despite worries that a five-day layoff and the Stanley Cup beginning on Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. would slow any momentum, the ratings on NBC were better than expected for Game 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers last night.

The 2.8 overnight rating was highest for a Game 1 of the Finals since the 1999 series between the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars that was broadcast on FOX.

More highlights from NBC Sports PR:

"The game—broadcast by NBC Sports on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend—also saw a 12-percent increase over last year’s Game 1 (Pittsburgh vs. Detroit, 2.5 on NBC), which was also on a Saturday night but not played during Memorial Day Weekend and was between the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, featuring Sidney Crosby(notes).

The 2.8 overnight rating also ranks as the highest overnight rating for a Game 1 played on a Saturday in 13 years (since 1997 Detroit-Philadelphia, 5.1 on Fox).

Chicago led all markets with a 16.8 rating and 35 share. Philadelphia followed with a 13.2 rating and 25 share."

An 11-goal game and having two strong hockey markets involved helped with the large viewership. And maybe, just maybe the fact that it's a holiday weekend and people are gathering in the U.S. aided as well.

(Sports Media Watch points out that there have been only five Saturday night Game 1's since 1997 and that the opening two games of the Cup were on cable from 2000-2008.)

Game 2 falls on Monday, the end of a three-day weekend for most in the U.S. Will they be watching no matter what or does an avalanche of goals need to happen again in order for the rating to grow?

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