ESPN’s Opening Night Ratings Sets All-Time Record


According to Sports Media Watch, the NHL’s return to ESPN has already paid off in the ratings with a record Opening Night audience.

Tuesday’s Penguins-Lightning NHL Opening Night game averaged 983,000 viewers on ESPN, the league’s largest Opening Night audience ever on cable (dates back to 1993). The previous high was 956,000 for Flyers-Bruins on NBCSN in 2014.

Regardless of network, it was the largest audience for the first national NHL telecast of any season since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign — when the season opened with a regional window on NBC (Blackhawks-Kings or Flyers-Penguins: 2.8M).

The Penguins-Lightning game increased 36% from Capitals-Blues on NBCSN in October 2019, the last traditional (pre-pandemic) Opening Night (983K). Last season’s first game, Flyers-Penguins on a Wednesday afternoon in January, averaged 932,000 on NBCSN.

In Tuesday night’s late game, the Kraken-Golden Knights averaged 783,000 — up 107% from Sharks-Golden Knights in ’19 (379K).

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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2 Responses to ESPN’s Opening Night Ratings Sets All-Time Record

  1. Anonymous says:

    Definitely a step up. Now TNT, that’s another story.

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