Brendan Gallagher (Jana Chytilova/Getty Images)
The recipe for television ratings success? More Canadian teams in the post-season. The first-round of the 2014-15 playoffs saw a 36 percent increase in television viewership over last season, thanks in large part to five Canadian clubs making the post-season. The series between Montreal and Ottawa drew an average of nearly 3.5 million viewers, the most of any first-round series.
Thanks to the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets, the NHL saw a first-round boost in their TV ratings of almost 40 percent over last season.
According to The Canadian Press' Bill Brioux, Canadian ratings company Numeris revealed the ratings numbers for the first round of the 2015 post-season and the increase was significant. Compared to last year, the NHL's ratings are up 36 percent from last season's first round when Montreal was the only Canadian team in the running.
While it's not shocking that five Canadian clubs helped boost the ratings -- surprise, Canada loves hockey -- it's incredible to hear just how great the impact the five post-season teams had on the success of Rogers' television broadcasts. Spread across Sportsnet, CBC and GameCentre Live in Canada, viewers tuned in en masse to take in each of the first-round matchups, but none drew quite as well as the series between Ottawa and Montreal.
On average, according to Numeris, the Senators and Canadiens series drew 3.2 million viewers per game, with Game 6 drawing more than 3.75 million, which is more than the combined average of the first-round tilts that pitted Vancouver against Calgary and Winnipeg against Anaheim.
The Canucks and Flames series, one that was hard fought and heavy hitting, averaged 2.2 million viewers and the Jets' first time in the post-season since hockey returned to Winnipeg -- a four-game defeat at the hands of the Ducks -- was met with 1.4 million fans watching on average.
Because of the way the matchups worked out, however, the Canucks, Senators and Jets were all sent packing after round one which could have an impact on second-round viewership. That said, that two Canadian teams moved on to Round 2 -- Montreal and Calgary -- means there's one more Canadian squad playing into May than there was last season. That alone could buoy the ratings for at least one more round before the conference final series take over to boost ratings with hardware on the line.
Rogers, who owns broadcast rights to the NHL in Canada, paid $5.2 billion to lock up a deal with the league. If the ratings can persist and Canadian clubs can remain as successful, things are looking good for Rogers.