Tuesday’s Buffalo at Pittsburgh game on VERSUS posted a .41 national household cable rating, garnering 394,678 viewers. The telecast not only was the highest-rated NHL game this year, but the most-viewed NHL regular-season game ever on the network. In addition, the shoot-out thriller outranked every other prime-time cable program in both the Buffalo and Pittsburgh television markets. In Buffalo, the game registered a 12.0 rating, up 16 percent from last season’s comparable average (10.0) for Sabres games on VERSUS. In Pittsburgh, the telecast received a 6.0 rating, making it the highest rating ever in Pittsburgh for a Penguins game on the network.
Obviously, this is an extremely impressive figure and the gigantic 12.0 rating in Buffalo is a nice rebound from the disappointing numbers of late February. Te regular season record isn't too much of a surprise considering the game matched up the two best American TV markets on a day when the Pens arena deal was announced, but it's always nice to see positive news in the regularly bleak landscape of NHL TV ratings.
Buffalo continues to drive the ratings for Versus and it will be interesting to see how many Sabres games the network will try and cover next year. It seems safe to say it will be in the double digits, up from 8 this year.