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NHL's 1st-round TV audience up 24 per cent in US, highest average since 2001

NEW YORK, N.Y. - U.S. viewership of the NHL playoffs increased 24 per cent from 2009, the league's highest average first-round audience in 10 years.

The NHL said Friday that NBC and Versus combined to average 742,000 viewers per telecast. That's the most since ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 had 750,000 in 2000.

Versus averaged 595,000 viewers, a 35 per cent increase from 2009 and the league's best showing on cable since ESPN/ESPN2 in 2001 (608,000). Versus averaged a .7 rating, up 75 per cent from 2009.

NBC averaged 430,000 viewers for its four broadcasts, an 18 per cent increase over 2009. Its 1.1 average rating was the best since 2006 and up 10 per cent from last year.

The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use.

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