Saturday, May 16, 2009

Who Says The NHL Needs ESPN?

There are several people that are arguing that the NHL would be much better off on ESPN, and while the overall quality of the broadcasts is certainly better, ratings wise, the NHL has been doing just fine on Versus. The Pittsburgh-Washington series was the highest rated NHL Conference semifinal since 1997! And their non-exclusive Game 7 coverage (which means blacked out in the local markets) of the Washington-Pittsburgh series led Versus to be the highest rated cable network that night in the Men's 18-34 and 18-49 demo. From a Versus PR via Puck the Media

The network’s coverage of the 2009 Conference Semifinals was the highest-rated second round on cable since 1997. VERSUS, which aired eight exclusive games and 16 non-exclusive games, posted significant increases in HH ratings (up 33%), total viewership (up 32%) and viewership across all key male demos, Men 18-34 (up 23%), Men 18-49 (up 33%) and Men 25-54 (up 42%) as compared to year-ago figures from the second postseason round. This second round growth follows a 21-percent increase in viewership during the regular season and 22-percent viewership growth in the Conference Quarterfinals.

VERSUS’ exclusive telecast of Game 3 in the Pittsburgh Penguins/Washington Capitals Conference Semifinal round series on May 6 garnered a 1.3 National HH Rating and averaged 1,488,952 total viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-watched Semifinals telecast on cable since 2002. VERSUS’ non-exclusive coverage of Game 7 in the same series made the network the highest-rated cable network in the country among Men 18-34 and Men 18-49.

“The 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs just get better and better with each round. Three series that went the full seven games, sudden-death overtimes and the historic Crosby/Ovechkin showdown led to VERSUS earning record-breaking ratings and viewership in the second round,” said Jamie Davis, President of VERSUS. ”With the highest-rated Conference Semifinal round on cable in 12 years, we’ve proven that sports fans across the country know VERSUS is, without question, the television destination for the most complete coverage of NHL action.”
That is certainly good news for the NHL and Versus! And with a pair of interesting conference finals, I think we can all expect the numbers to stay up there, despite the fact that Joe Beninati is calling the Eastern Conference finals. But on the plus side of that, is analyst is none other than the Razor himself, Daryl Reaugh, who has definitley stood out as a really good analyst. No, scratch that, Reaugh (pronounced "Ray") is the best analyst Versus has employed this post season by a long mile. And while sadly he is paired with Beninati, he has shown himself to be really excitable and enjoyable to listen to and should improve the broadcasts up to a level of tolerance for me. I must say, forget the fact that it's Versus, Doc Emrick (who sadly is paired with the forgettable Edzo for the rest of the way) and Reaugh are definitley worthy enough and good enough to be an A-team for any network or TV channel in the U.S. or Canada that has coverage of the NHL.


  1. The NHL does though need to schedule these games better. They had two game 7's on at basically the same time.

    Other than that, I think Versus has done a fine job for a network that never had experience with live sporting events.

  2. Yeah, but at the same time, 3 of the 4 teams with home ice advantage in the conference semifinals were east of the Mississippi and those were the 3 series that went to a Game 7. There really is not much they could have done about that

    Versus has been steadily improving their coverage year-by-year.


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