Despite ranking among the highest TV ratings for NHL markets over the past decade, the Penguins are up 50% so far this season
According to data from the Sports Business Journal highlighted by the Penguins’ media release, the Pittsburgh Penguins led the entire NHL in local television ratings through the first portion of the league season.
AT&T SportsNet, the Pittsburgh network for all local Penguins games, received a 7.88 rating, which leads all U.S. hockey markets, as of Feb. 9.
The Penguins have historically had high television ratings, ranking first or second over the last decade. However, the early 2021 numbers are 50% higher than last season. With PPG Paints Arena closed to fans this season, it makes sense that Pens fans have watched games with a renewed fervor.
Since Valentine’s Day 2007, the Penguins have sold out every home game, a streak of over 600 games, so while that streak is on pause, Pens fans haven’t let COVID-19 affect their viewing habits.
James Santilli, the Penguins’ Chief Experience Officer called the Penguins fans the best in the NHL through a Pens media release:
"“We have the greatest fans in hockey. The loyalty and passion they show for the team is off the charts, as these numbers show. We salute them for this amazing support during a challenging time. We also want to thank our friends at AT&T SportsNet for their outstanding work in broadcasting our games.”"
Even for contests broadcast outside of AT&T SportsNet, the Penguins have drawn record viewership.
Sam Carp, of Sports Pro Media, outlined how the Penguins-Flyers opening night matchup on Jan. 13 became the most watched game on NBCSN ever. Despite an untraditional 5:30 p.m. start time, the Pens-Flyers drew 972,000 viewers—up from 966,000 for the Flyers-Boston Bruins in 2014.
Despite the Pens elimination at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens in the preliminary round of the NHL playoffs last season and the early season struggles thus far this season, Pens fans have remained invested in their team’s success this season.
With wins over the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals in the last two games out, the Pens have the chance to sweep the Caps and improve to 4-0 against their bitter rivals halfway through the season series.
There’s no reason why the Pens won’t continue to dominate the television ratings this season, especially with no opportunity to attend home games.