With regional attendance, or lack of it, being a point of emphasis after the weekend, the TV ratings for the first two rounds of the 2016 NCAA Hockey Tournament were not much better.
Only 3 of the 9 games registered better ratings than the 2015 tournament, which featured several dominant teams and the name value of 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel.
It should be noted, however, that the ESPN2 slot last year between Denver and Boston College was at 3 pm rather than in the evening. (An international friendly was played during that time slot this year.)
Led by Michigan's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012, the Wolverines had the two highest rated games of the weekend. Michigan's loss to North Dakota had 186,000 viewers on ESPN2. Michigan-Notre Dame on Friday afternoon was the only one on ESPNU to surpass 100,000 viewers, averaging 115K and outdrawing the comparable Minnesota-Minnesota Duluth game.
Spread across all 3 days, five 2015 first round and quarterfinal games on the channel averaged more than 100,000 viewers.
RIT's game against Quinnipiac, which was the in the time slot as the Tigers' upset win over Minnesota State, averaged 3K more viewers.
The biggest surprise was North Dakota and Northeastern opening the road to Tampa with only 55K viewers. Even adjusting for a 1 pm local start, that total was down from the 63K Boston University and Yale drew a year ago in an overtime win by EIchel's Terriers.
Both of North Dakota's games last year, coming in the evening time slot and in a year where the Fighting Hawks hosted the regional, were at the high end of the opening weekend. It's possible how the game went, a 6-2 blowout victory for North Dakota, had to do with the numbers. A similar blowout win by Denver's over Boston University drew the least viewers in a time slot that the Fighting Hawks had done well a year ago.
The highest regular season broadcast available was the 77,000 Notre Dame and Minnesota drew on NBCSN in early November. Neither CBS Sports Network nor BTN report numbers to Nielsen. Many of the reported games on ESPNU and ESPNEWS were around the 30,000 viewer mark.
The 2016 Frozen Four is in Tampa, Florida April 7th and 9th.
Boston College-Quinnipiac (5:00 p.m. ET) and North Dakota-Denver (8:30 p.m. ET) will be live on ESPN2 in the two semifinals. The winners face one another for the 2016 NCAA Hockey national championship 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 9th.
All data comes from sportstvratings.com
|Game||Viewers||Date||Time Slot||Network||2015 comparable||Difference|
|Michigan-North Dakota||186,000||Saturday||6 pm ET||ESPN2||241,000||-55K|
|Notre Dame-Michigan||115,000||Friday||5:30 pm ET||ESPNU||113,000||2K|
|Ferris State-Denver||87,000||Sunday||5 pm ET||ESPNU||84,000||3K|
|UMass-Lowell-Quinnipiac||75,000||Sunday||7:30 pm ET||ESPNU||115,000||-40K|
|Minnesota Duluth-Boston College||69,000||Saturday||9 pm ET||ESPNU||148,000||-79K|
|RIT-Quinnipiac||60,000||Saturday||4 pm ET||ESPNU||57,000||3K|
|Northeastern-North Dakota||55,000||Friday||2 pm ET||ESPNU||63,000||-8K|
|Harvard-Boston College||51,000||Friday||8 pm ET||ESPNU||122,000||-71K|
|Boston University-Denver||37,000||Saturday||6:30 pm ET||ESPNU||158,000||-121K|
Note: Data for St. Cloud State-Ferris State on ESPNEWS is unavailable. The 2015 comparable (Providence-Miami) had 57K viewers.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate