Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, June 01, 2021

My previous concern over this past weekend’s Stanley Cup Final schedule on NBC seemed unfounded. By the numbers, Game 1 and Game 2 turned in great ratings, with a 2.8 and 4.1 share respectively.

So I guess back-to-back Saturday-Sunday championship games aren’t essential for National Hockey League viewership. Then again, it’s important to remember the context:

We’re talking about the No. 3 and No. 4 TV markets in the U.S. facing off in this series. The local viewership is fueling these ratings, much like it did for the last two finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, and much like it does for the NHL’s regular-season games on NBC.

It’s a dangerous game for the NHL: It’s impressive how hockey can dominate big media markets during special events (Stanley Cup Finals, Winter Classic), but what happens when a Canadian team sneaks back into the championship round? Or an American team that isn’t from the Original Six or a strong Northern market?

Not that I think it’s worth worrying about non-marquee teams making it to Cup contention. Excepting the Super Bowl, every sport plays that “dangerous game” of the potential ratings hit from the championship round suffering smaller-market teams. That’s where the marketing (particularly player-focused marketing) should kick in.

Still, that 4.1 is impressive enough. It’s still on the low end of comparable NBA or MLB final-round coverage, but at least it shows that prime-time televised hockey has a pulse.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/01/2021 11:41pm
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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