The NHL has released its viewership numbers for the 2010 playoffs thus far and the numbers are awesome. Even cities whose teams did not make the playoffs, and markets that simply don’t have a team, have seen an increase in viewership. With these numbers in mind, I think it’s safe to say that hockey is back.
Some of the most shocking numbers come from the cities that don’t have an NHL team associated with them. In Birmingham, Alabama and Norfolk, Virginia, viewership on Versus has risen by 200%. Usually you could draw the conclusion that this happened in Birmingham because of the Atlanta Thrashers, but the Thrashers didn’t make the playoffs this year. I’m going to have to guess that viewership was up in both cities because of the closest team to them that did make the playoffs — the Nashville Predators. The Preds took the Chicago Blackhawks to six games in the First Round before being eliminated.
Viewership for the playoff games on NBC has risen in the cities that did make the playoffs, which is expected as more and more people hop on the hockey bandwagon. What blew me away was that viewership was up by 500% in Detroit. Um, let me get this straight: the place that calls itself “Hockeytown, USA” and that had its team make it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year has seen that big of an increase in viewership? I haven’t heard of a major migration to Detroit, so what does that mean? Did “Hockeytown’s” fans not tune in to the Quarterfinals last year? Seems like a very strange occurrence for their fans to not watch the Red Wings last year, especially coming off a Stanley Cup win in 2008.
All I can say is that this awesome news for the NHL — a league that has long been overshadowed by the MLB, NFL and NBA. It’s possible the increase in ratings is due to Team USA’s silver medal performance as Olympics underdogs in Vancouver. Or maybe it’s just that hockey fever has spread across the nation. Either way, I hope that this trend continues.
Here are some of the specific ratings details: