Wednesday I wrote a post over at SB Nation College Hockey about the men's hockey 2017 NCAA Tournament TV ratings for the regional rounds.
Although the post touched upon the weekend-high average of 212K viewers for Minnesota's loss to Notre Dame, several of you had questions about where that compares to other Gopher games. For those that asked, here's your answer.
It's no secret the Gophers draw well. Saturday's game was big for both college hockey and ESPNU.
Several channels which carry college hockey in the regular season do not subscribe to Nielsen. Of those that do (i.e. ESPNU, NBCSN), Saturday afternoon's game would be 3-4x the average 2016-17 regular season game.
Unfortunately, there is no comparison this year for Minnesota. (BTN and ESPNEWS are two of those channels which does not subscribe.) Notre Dame's home games on NBCSN consistently were somewhere between 59K (Penn State) and 66K (Vermont). (The next day the Northeast Regional final dropped down to 95K.) When the two teams played in 2013 they drew 182,000 viewers for a #1-#2 matchup. Three years later it was 71K on a Saturday in South Bend.
Only one regional game over the past three tournaments has seen more people watching average than Minnesota's loss to the Fighting Irish. That game - Denver vs. BC in 2015 - drew 248K viewers on ESPN2. The Gophers were on ESPNU, a channel with a smaller distribution and higher tier in many cable/satellite packages.
Besides being the highest-viewed NCAA hockey game of the weekend, it was the highest-viewed program on ESPNU for the week. No program this month had more viewers on ESPNU outside of a half-dozen Big 12 and ACC conference basketball tournament games. Minnesota-Notre Dame outdrew every NIT game, ACC regular season basketball, lacrosse and NCAA women's basketball tournament.
Two years ago when Minnesota played Minnesota Duluth the two teams drew 112K in the early Friday afternoon slot.
When the Gophers do well, the ratings rise throughout the tournament. In 2014 the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area drew a 10.6 HH rating for the national championship game. 1 HH point equals 17,280 households, meaning 183K of the 717K average viewers were from the area.