Associated Press poops on hockey ratings glory on NBC

The NHL and NBC took a chance this postseason with their radical broadcast schedule for the Stanley Cup Finals, in which Games 1 and 2 were on the Peacock (on back-to-back nights) before moving to Versus (if they can find it, yuck yuck) for Games 3 and 4.

Through two nights, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings have generated strong ratings for a rematch on NBC. Game 1 had a final rating of 2.6 rating and a 5 share; according to Mark Berman of MediaWeek, "the low-rated Stanley Cups Finals at a 3.5/6 in the overnights from 8-11 p.m." for Game 2 on Sunday night, with 5.3 million viewers.

Sure, the ratings are low by comparison to, say, the NBA playoffs; heck, Game 2 tied a rerun of "America's Funniest Home Videos" on ABC, even if advertisers are more likely to covet the NHL's "Males 18-34" demo than AFHV's "adults and children who enjoy watching people get hit in the nuts with household items" demo (we call them "baseball fans" 'round here).

But the NHL and NBC have nothing to be ashamed about: They launched the Finals as well as they could before Versus takes the helm. Of course, try telling that to the Associated Press, which dropped its pants along with its logic in writing the following about the postseason ratings:

Television ratings for Game 1 of the Red Wings-Penguins Stanley Cup finals rematch were down from last year's levels. The NBC telecast drew a 2.6 rating and a 5 share. That's compared with a four-game NBC average of a 3.2 rating and a 6 share one year ago.

Either the AP is determined to make the NHL look bad, or it's so ill-informed about television that it once tried to use it to microwave a burrito.

As the Kurtenblog pointed out in a post about the NHL scrubbing the "bad news" ratings story from its news feed, comparing the ratings for Game 1 to the average rating for the 2008 Finals is dumber than dumb. Game 6 between the Penguins and Wings in 2008 had a 4.0 rating and 6.8 million viewers, a.k.a. the largest audience for an NHL game in five years. One imagines this would be pertinent information when attempting to compare apples and puppies, but it must have not fit with the hockey-destroying mission just slipped the AP's mind.

If the ratings hold for Game 2, that would mean that NBC is right below (3.0) its average for the entire series last year (3.2). And that's without an elimination game being played on the network yet.

Steve Lepore of Puck the Media has a nice analysis of NBC's coverage for the first two games.

Our favorite moment from last night, as covered in the live blog, was when Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire really got into it during the second intermission, with Mad Mike telling The Turtle to "get his crying towel" and that his analysis was "struggling." (If anyone has video, please to be e-mailing.)

Too bad the rest of the broadcast was Milbury and Darren Pang in a back-patting competition.

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