Minnesotans watching the Wild in record numbers



NHL, we just don't know how to quit you.

One question following the end of the NHL Lockout was how much steam a team like Minnesota, who erased years of malaise by spending $196 million on free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, lost in the four month labor dispute. Would being out of sight and out of mind cost the Wild ticket sales and TV ratings?

Turns out the answer through seven games on TV is a hearty "no".

Wednesday's 3-2 shootout win for the Wild over Chicago achieved a new local record according to NBC Sports Net. The game received a 4.8 rating in the Twin Cities, which is the highest ever for the market on NBCSN.

1 ratings point in the Twin Cities equals 17,280 households meaning a 4.8 rating would be nearly 83K homes.

Last night's game additionally drew a 5.1 in Chicago and was the third most-viewed NHL game ever on NBC Sports Net. 827,000 viewers watched nationally with the contest peaking at 1.05 million. The only game that has been higher so far this season was the initial "Rivalry Wednesday" game between New York and Boston that saw 956,000 viewers watch the Rangers win in overtime. Despite legit claims to whether or not Minnesota-Chicago fits the "rivalry" build NBCSN is going for, Wednesday is becoming a big night for the network.

Although the network has to be pleased that 65% more viewers than last year wanted to see the Wild and Blackhawks play, breaking TV records is nothing new for Minnesota this year. A 4.8 rating would have been a record high for the Wild in the Twin Cities to begin the season, however, that record was smashed when the 13 year Parise/Suter Era began January 19th with a 7.65 rating on Fox Sports North.

That game, which served as the nightcap to 2013 Hockey Day Minnesota, featured Minnesota opening the shortened post-lockout year with a 4-2 win over Colorado.

To put these numbers in perspective, the Wild averaged a 1.67 rating on Fox Sports North in 2009-2010 and 4 years of missing the playoffs brought the average FSN broadcast below the Timberwolves last season. Nationally, the 827K the Wild and Blackhawks had more than doubles the 401,000 viewers who saw Minnesota-St. Louis on NBC Sports Network on Sunday. Even that, meanwhile, was higher than last year's NBCSN average.

What makes the number more impressive is that the Wild game went head-to-head with the Minnesota Timberwolves facing the LA Clippers on Fox Sports North at the same time.

(Multiple attempts to find out what the Timberwolves game drew were unsuccessful.)

Whether or not these numbers can last an entire season remains to be seen, but for all the disadvantages the lockout-shortened season has it is making the most in its January comeback so far.

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