There were two broadccast stations covering game 7 between the Lightning and the Red Wings last night. The marjority of viewers had the option to wat ch NBCC Sports Network (and tell certain broadcast analystis to zip it) while those in the Tampa Bay viewing market had the standard option of Rick Peckham and Bobby "The Chief" Taylor on Sun Sports. Sun Sports carries the majority of Lightning broadcasts during the season... The station has been doing it for a lot of seasons too .
Last night set a enw benchmark for the station and for the Lightning. Game 7 was the most viewed game in the Tampa Bay Lightning regional broadcast history with Sun Sports:
Overnight ratings show the game garnered a 7.5 HH average in the Tampa DMA, which translates to an estimated 136,691 households, according to Nielsen Media Research. The single-game high shattered the previous all-time high of a 4.6 HH set in 2011 versus the Washington Capitals in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I don't know how the national broadcast did on NBC Sports Network (those numbers were not sent out in a press release) but the story with these numbers is that Tampa Bay is watching it's hockey club, and a new high bar has been reached with the number of residents doing it.
UPDATE: While it wasn't a Sun Sports broadcast, it's the numbers that mean a ton: Versus (now NBC Sports Net) hosted the Lightning against the Boston Bruins in 2011. Game 7 held a 7.8 rating in the Tampa Bay broadcast market. That was a huge game in that the winner would go on to the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the third-round of the playoffs. Four years later, a less-weighty playoff round draws comparable attention to a game that decided the Stanley Cup candidate form the Eastern Conference?
That's growth of the market.
(hat tip to Steve Lepore for sharing the info with me)