National Hockey League ratings are booming following a six-month carriage dispute between Versus and DirecTV, Mediaweek reports.
Since Versus returned to DirecTV’s lineup in March, viewers for the final four weeks of the season averaged 365,000, representing a 28% jump from the same period one year earlier. Versus has averaged 534,000 viewers, an increase of 21%, through the first week of its coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
NBC has also seen a jump in its hockey ratings, with a 13% rise in viewers during its Game of the Week telecasts compared with last season. “There is a good, healthy buzz about the NHL,” Christine Merrifield, senior vice president and director of video investment at MediaVest, said.
The increased ratings may result in a rights battle: ESPN has indicated it would like to have hockey return to ESPN and ABC after the contracts for Versus and NBC expire in 2011.