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Local eyes peeled for Game 7

The Stanley Cup was Must-See TV for Pittsburghers.

According to Nielsen Media Research, more than 485,000 local television viewers watched Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. The NBC broadcast June 12 drew a 42.2 rating - the highest local mark for an NHL game since the league began tracking in 1995.

One local rating point equates to 11,500 viewers.

Also, 61 percent of regional television sets were tuned to Game 7, won by the Penguins to claim their third championship. The one quarter-hour peak rating/share was 54. 673, with another quarter-hour at 53. 173.

"These are NFL-type rating numbers," Penguins president David Morehouse said, adding that he was equally excited and humbled with local television ratings to rival the NFL's Super Bowl.

"It shows how much potential we have to continue to grow the game throughout the tri-state area."

Smash local ratings are nothing new for the Penguins.

During the regular season, a broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh earned a 6.9 rating, the highest ever for that network. Versus' broadcast of Game 7 of the second-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals drew a 27 rating, then the highest in that network's history before Games 3 and 4 of the Cup Final.

Nationally, Game 7 of the Cup Final drew a 4.3 rating and an 8 share - the highest marks for an NHL games since 1973.

The Penguins appear to be staking a claim for supremacy locally, though team officials stressed yesterday that the Super Bowl-champion Steelers remain "the model franchise in professional sports."

Penguins merchandise once again topped all NHL teams in sales this season. They have filled every seat at Mellon Arena for each of the past two seasons, including 22 playoff games. They are expected to sell out each of the final 41 regular-season games at Mellon Arena next season, the last before Consol Energy Center opens for 2010-11.

"The popularity of this team is at a higher plane than we've ever seen before," vice president of communications Tom McMillan said. "Those (Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992) were popular, but there is no comparison for this.

"I don't think anybody could imagine anything like this."

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