Large team-sponsored viewing parties have become a staple of the Stanley Cup playoffs in recent years, but NBC has always been a bit of a party pooper. It all started with the awesome watch parties held outside Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh several years back, but when the Penguins reached the late rounds of the postseason in 2008 and 2009, NBC put the brakes on those events.
Why? The several thousand people watching the game together in an awesome environment weren't watching in front of their televisions, which affected NBC's ratings. Or so they said.
It seemed like NBC had come to their senses in recent years, even allowing the Devils and Rangers hold in-arena viewing parties earlier in this year's Eastern Conference final series without complaint. But ... not anymore.
The Rangers, who had a viewing party at the Garden for Game 4 on Monday night, also will not be permitted to have one for Friday's Game 6 at The Rock.
A source said the decision was ratings related.
Neither the Devils nor NBC responded to requests for comment. All of the remaining games in the series will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
It's stupid. At most, 20,000 or so people attend these watch parties. In most cases, fewer than 10,000 fans head down to the arena to watch the game with a bunch of fellow fans. That number is negligible when it comes to TV ratings when you have hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even over 1 million, households tuning into these games.
If viewing parties are going to hurt NBC's bottom line, I guess we should stop bars and restaurants from broadcasting games, too. And fans can't gather at a friend's house for the game, either. Can't have more than one person watching at once, you know?
Stop ruining everybody's fun, NBC.