Stanley Cup strong for Versus

Ratings will likely increase as playoffs continue

Versus is off to a strong start in its coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Comcast-owned sports cabler is the home of the NHL and through the first five nights of the conference quarterfinals, ratings have matched the mark set in 2002 when ESPN had hockey rights.

Compared to last season through this point in the playoffs, viewership is up 21% with 543,000 puck fans tuning in. Slicing up the numbers among the demos, highest is men 25-54, which has risen 18%. The most-watched game (731,000) so far was April 17, when Montreal traveled and lost in overtime to Washington.

Ratings will undoubtedly increase as the playoffs continue. Weekend games are telecast on NBC, which splits ad revenue with the league.

Next season is the final year of Versus’ contract with the NHL.