The mass mediocrity of Canadian teams that undermined NHL television ratings for Rogers Media this season combined to give the company a rare bonus on Saturday night.
Since fans of all seven Canadian franchises had a rooting interest in the lottery that chooses which team picks first in the 2016 NHL entry draft, the audience for its live broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada hit 1.57 million viewers according to the overnight ratings from Numeris.
That topped the NHL playoff game that followed the lottery – Pittsburgh Penguins versus Washington Capitals drew an average audience of 1.49 million – and it was the highest-rated hockey event this postseason on either the CBC or Rogers' Sportsnet network based on the data available to this point.
Rogers also did well with the Toronto Blue Jays-Tampa Bay Rays game it was committed to carrying on Sportsnet opposite the draft lottery. The Jays game drew an average of 1.01 million viewers.
While the CBC was the only English-language network carrying the draft lottery in Canada, it was a Rogers victory because its broadcast deal with the public network and the NHL gives it all advertising revenues from the hockey broadcasts.
The overnight numbers are considered reliable by the broadcast industry, but they are not considered official. The official numbers for the draft lottery have not been released by Numeris. But so far, in the numbers from first-round NHL playoff games through April 17, not one NHL game appears in the top 30 television programs in Canada.
According to a story published in the Hockey News, the Canadian ratings for the first 20 games in the NHL's first round, from April 13-17, drew an average of 513,000 viewers. That is a 61-per-cent decline from the first round of the playoffs in 2015, when there were five Canadian teams in the first round and Rogers drew an average audience of 1.306-million a game.
Rogers also scored a rare lopsided win over rival Bell Media's TSN, which could not carry the live broadcast of the draft lottery.
TSN countered with live analysis and coverage of the lottery at 7:30 p.m., which managed an average audience of only 71,800. The network did see its audience peak at 181,000 when the winning team was revealed.
However, TSN did manage to score the most entertaining moment of the draft lottery. That was the shot of panelist and former Maple Leaf Jeff O'Neill's reaction to his old team's win, which blew up on social media.
Editor's Note: Earlier newspaper and digital versions of this story included incorrect broadcast numbers of Canadian viewers. The incorrect numbers as published were 1.43 million for the live broadcast of the NHL entry draft, an NHL playoff game that followed the lottery at 1.385 million and a Jays game at 997,000 viewers. The correct numbers are 1.57 million viewers for the entry draft, 1.49 million for the NHL playoff game and 1.01 million viewers for the Jays game. This digital version has been corrected.