TV Viewership Skyrockets for 1st Round Of NHL Playoffs

The first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs delivered some high drama — and massive TV ratings.

Thanks in part to five decisive Game 7s, this was the most-watched first round ever on U.S. cable, averaging 768,000 viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and TBS, according to the NHL.

That’s up 58% from last year’s first round on cable (NBCSN, CNBC, USA) and 20% from 2019 (NBCSN, CNBC, USA).

Viewership among women on cable rose 83% from 2021 and 49% from 2019.

This weekend’s five Game 7s pulled in a cumulative North American audience of 28 million across ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, CBC, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports — including an average 6.1 million for the Lightning’s victory over the Maple Leafs and 4.3 million for the Rangers’ OT win over the Penguins.

After the NHL’s partnership with NBC Sports ended in 2021, the league inked seven-year agreements with ESPN and Turner Sports totaling $1 billion.

“It is what we hoped and expected,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told of the ratings boom. “The Walt Disney Company, ESPN, ABC, HULU, ESPN+, Turner, which is Warner Brothers/Discovery now, they have great platforms.”

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