Just laugh at people when they tell you Columbus isn't a hockey town.
The Blue Jackets' heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins last night in Game 5 set another ratings record for the city of Columbus, recording a 15.2 locally. And the number could have been bigger. Columbus hockey fans tuned in to NBC en masse while more than 13,000 of the more rabid were in Nationwide Arena for a raucous watch party.
Game 5 did a 3.22 overnight for NBC, making it the second-highest rating for a non-finals game since 1994, just off the 3.27 for Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals between Chicago and Anaheim in 2015. The overnight was up 12% from last year's Game 5 between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, which also benefitted from a Kentucky Derby lead-in.
Let's just take a second to process that. Game 5 of a second-round series just misses becoming NBC's highest-rated non-Stanley Cup Finals game ever recorded, with a big segment of the fan base in Nationwide Arena to watch (and thus, not adding to ratings), thanks to the city of Columbus falling in love with the Blue Jackets.
|ONE||BOS 3, CBJ 2 (OT)||8.3|
|TWO||CBJ 3, BOS 2 (2OT)||13.0|
|THREE||CBJ 2, BOS 1||13.2|
|FOUR||BOS 4, CBJ 1||14.2|
|FIVE||BOS 4, CBJ 3||15.2|
It was the fourth-straight game in which the Columbus market set a local ratings record for an NHL game.
Here's some more context:
- Denver set a local ratings record Saturday night for Colorado's Game 5 loss to San Jose with a 9.1. Good showing, but not even close to a 15.2.
- The 15.2 locally in Columbus is approaching what Ohio State football typically draws in Central Ohio for a game against an unranked non-conference opponent (think Tulane). Columbus typically does high 20s rating for Ohio State vs. non-marquee Big Ten opponents, like Indiana, and the low 40s and up for bigger games. For instance, the Buckeyes' 27-26 comeback win against Penn State on ABC last season did a 43.3 in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets will look to even the series Monday night for Game 6 at Nationwide Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m.