May 30, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) carries the puck away from Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) behind goalie Jonathan Quick (32) during game one of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals at the Prudential Center. The Kings won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
Why the numbers were bad, but there's still hope for the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals finished down from every Game 1 on broadcast television since 2009.
Wednesday night's overtime game drew just 2.9 million viewers on NBC, down 33 percent from Game 1 in 2011 (Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks: 4.53 million). It is the least-watched Stanley Cup finals broadcast on network television since 2007, when the Ducks' Game 5 clincher over the Senators drew the same number. That was a series high, which provides what is hopefully some good news that the NHL won't fall further to pre- and post-lockout ratings levels.
If the Kings-Devils series finds a way to grow on Saturday night, all is not lost. However, last year's finals dropped more than a million viewers (from 4.53 million to 3.37 million) from Game 1 to Game 2.
Finally, I'm not the guy to be all "the NHL's ratings are so low ...," but Game 1 got beaten out by the 2012 NBA draft lottery on ESPN, which drew 2.95 million viewers. Memo to the NHL: Fix the finals and watch the viewers pile up!
Recent Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 Numbers
Los Angeles vs. New Jersey, 2012: 2.9 million
Boston vs. Vancouver, 2011: 4.53 million
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 2010: 4.34 million
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings, 2009: 4.51 million