NBC Sports Nets Second-Most-Watched NHL Playoffs

With 93 postseason games to light the Nielsen lamp, the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs rank as the second-most-watched since NBC Sports Group began airing National Hockey League action in 2006.

The 2014 playoffs averaged 1.44 million viewers across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC, trailing only last year’s 1.47 million average during the NBC era. All told, the recently completed postseason ranks as the fourth-most-watched over the past 20 years since data became available in 1994: Fox and ESPN averages 1.56 million viewers in 1996, and 1.52 million the following year.

The five-game Stanley Cup Final -- the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers to claim their second title in the last three years -- averaged just over 5 million viewers across NBC and NBCSN, only the fifth Final round since 1994 to average over 5 million. Overall, it was the fifth-most watched Final, with the high mark remaining last year’s the3 5.75 million for last year’s Final between Chicago and Boston.  The June 13 deciding fifth telecast, which the Kings won in double overtime, drew 6 million viewers to NBC.

On the cable side, NBCSN and CNBC aired 77 games that averaged a 0.66 rating and 1.098 million viewers to rank as the most-watched NHL playoffs on cable in 17 years, behind only the 1.21 million on ESPN/ESPN2 in 1997. That was up 10% from the 2013 cable average of a 0. 60 rating and 1.000 million viewers.

Relative to streaming, NBC Sports Live Extra netted 1.52 million uniques and 201.50 million minutes watched over the 93-game playoff span. Those metrics are the best-ever for an NHL postseason, representing jumps of 180% and 183%, respectively, from last year’s campaign.

The season ender, which was presented on an unauthenticated basis, delivered record traffic for an NHL game on NBC Sports Live Extra for virtually every metric, including 274,473 uniques and over 11.4 million live minutes. For its part, Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals was the best authenticated performer ever -- the telecast was on NBCSN -- with 8.15 million minutes watched.

The top 5 streamed games of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (minutes watched):

1.   June 13 – Game 5: New York Rangers @ Los Angeles Kings – 11.42 million (unauthenticated)
2.      June 7 - Game 2: New York Rangers @ Los Angeles Kings – 9.02 million (unauthenticated)
3.      June 1 – Game 7: Los Angeles Kings @ Chicago Blackhawks – 8.15 million (authentication-required)
4.      June 4 – Game 1: New York Rangers @ Los Angeles Kings – 6.49 million (unauthenticated)
5.      May 28 - Game 5: Los Angeles Kings @ Chicago Blackhawks – 5.49 million (authentication-required)

Source: NBC Sports Group