Tuesday, August 11th, 2020


Qualifying Round Averages Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 553,000 Viewers across NBC Sports Platforms, up 39% vs. 2019-20 Regular-Season Average (398,000)

Cable Games Up 120% vs. Comparable Regular-Season Average; NBC Games Up 11%, Excluding Winter Classic

Pro Hockey Talk Digital Traffic Already Exceeds Last Season’s Entire Playoffs

STAMFORD, Conn. – Aug. 11, 2020 – The first-ever NHL Qualifying Round delivered significant viewership gains across the platforms of NBC Sports when compared to the 2019-20 NHL regular season, according to Nielsen and digital data by Adobe Analytics.

Due to the pause in play in March caused by the pandemic, the NHL relaunched with the Qualifying Round on August 1 to determine seeding for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin today. These were the first-ever NHL games to be played in August and many of them were midweek afternoon games. Despite the uncommon programming windows and blackouts in local markets for all games on cable, viewership exceeded comparable regular-season games.

“Everyone involved in the NHL relaunch should be commended for putting on a spectacular Qualifying Round amidst unprecedented conditions,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC and NBCSN. “The viewership confirms that hockey fans were starving for their favorite sport and that the quality of the competition and the skills of the players were as good as ever.”

Following are viewership highlights for the 33 games of the Qualifying Round:

  • Across all platforms (NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, and the NBC Sports app), Qualifying Round coverage averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 553,000 viewers, up 39% 2019-20 regular-season average on NBC and NBCSN (398,000 viewers).
  • The six games on NBC averaged a TAD of 1.190 million viewers, up 11% vs. 2019-20 regular-season average on NBC (1.074 million), excluding the 2020 NHL Winter Classic.
  • The Canadiens-Penguins primetime matchup on NBC on Aug. 1 averaged a TAD of 1.529 million viewers, making it the most-watched NHL game of the 2019-20 season, excluding the Winter Classic. It was also up 42% the 2019-20 regular-season average for games on NBC (1.074 million), excluding the Winter Classic.
  • On cable, the 27 Qualifying Round games on NBCSN, CNBC and USA Network – which were non-exclusive and blacked out in both home markets – averaged a TAD of 396,000 viewers, up 120% from the 2019-20 NBCSN comparable regular-season average (180,000 viewers).
  • NBC Sports’ regular-season viewership record for a non-exclusive game blacked out in both home markets is Rangers-Penguins with 394,000 viewers in 2011. During the Qualifying Round, 11 NBCSN games surpassed that record.


Date Team Team Viewers
8/2 St. Louis Colorado 684,000
8/9 Columbus Toronto 678,000
8/3 Montreal Pittsburgh 631,000
8/5 Pittsburgh Montreal 607,000
8/7 Edmonton Chicago 594,000
8/4 Carolina NY Rangers 567,000
8/1 NY Rangers Carolina 528,000
8/7 Pittsburgh Montreal 484,000
8/3 Washington Tampa Bay 438,000
8/6 Toronto Columbus 420,000
8/9 Boston Washington 417,000


  • Following are the Top 10 local markets for all Qualifying Round games:


No. Market Rating
t1 Pittsburgh 1.4
t1 Las Vegas 1.4
t3 Philadelphia 1.1
t3 Buffalo 1.1
5 St. Louis 0.85
6 West Palm Beach 0.73
7 Providence 0.66
8 Boston 0.65
9 Chicago 0.64
10 Denver 0.59
  • Digitally, the Qualifying Round generated significant traffic for Pro Hockey Talk on During the 10 days of the Qualifying Round, the hockey website exceeded its traffic for the entire 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (64 days) by 8% in page views (3.257 million vs. 3.020 million) and 27% in uniques (1.995 million vs. 1.570 million).
  • When combining the Qualifying Round with the 2019-20 NHL regular season, coverage across NBC Sports platforms (NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, and the NBC Sports app) averaged a TAD of 438,000 viewers, which is the best in three years when compared to other traditional regular seasons (2016-17; 474,000 viewers) and up 3% vs. last year’s regular season (413,000 viewers).

The Qualifying Round consisted of best-of-five series contested between teams seeded 5th through 12th in each conference, with the winners moving on to the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The top four teams from each conference played round-robin games to determine playoff seeding.

All games that aired on NBC were exclusive, while all NBCSN, CNBC and USA Network games were non-exclusive, blacked out in the home markets and available on regional sports networks. All games were streamed on and the NBC Sports app, although local blackout rules still applied.

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins today.