The Stanley Cup Finals are finally picking up steam.
Game 5 drew a 2.6 overnight, topping the 2.2 for Games 1 & 2 as best of the series. Though this was down 19% from Game 5 last year (3.2) and down 35% from Game 5 in 2010 (4.0), it was even with the 2009 Penguins/Red Wings series, which also a 2.6 overnight for Game 5. That series finished with glowing ratings for Game 7.
Hockey ended up beating FOX's Major League Baseball regional telecast in the overnights, 2.6 to 2.4. Both will still likely get clobbered by hoops, but hey, moral victories.
The most encouraging sign is growth in local markets and late in the game ratings. The contest peaked from 10:30-11 p.m. ET, with a 3.6 rating. While some of that may have been typical "will somebody lift the Stanley Cup curiosity," it bodes well for Monday night's Game 6, and if necessary, a Wednesday night Game 7. There will be less competition those nights as well, so the Stanley Cup Finals may not be a national failure overall.
Locally, Los Angeles continues to carry the load, but New York is crawling back in. Game 5 drew an 8.8 rating in the city of angels, easily a series high (previously, it was Game 4 on NBCSN with a 6.6) and the highest Game 5 on record in the market. It was the highest-rated hockey game in Los Angeles since Game 7 between New Jersey and Anaheim in 2003 (10.0). Los Angeles ratings have grown 53% (4.2 to 8.8) from Game 1 to Game 5 in this series.
In New York, Game 5 drew a 4.8. Game 1 (5.1) is still tops in the market, but the ratings saw a 40% jump in the Big Apple from Game 4 (2.9) on NBC Sports Network. All this despite going against a Yankees/Mets Subway Series on FOX.
There may be hope for these two teams yet, as Games 6 and (if necessary) 7 take place on Monday and Wednesday, with no basketball competition and only regular season baseball to dilute numbers. The Devils comeback may help the NHL save face on national television.
Recent Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 Overnights
2012, Los Angeles vs. New Jersey: 2.6
2011, Boston vs. Vancouver: 3.2
2010, Philadelphia vs. Chicago: 4.0
2009, Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: 2.6
Stanley Cup Final Ratings in Los Angeles
Game 1: 4.2
Game 2: 5.5
Game 3: 4.9
Game 4: 6.6
Game 5: 8.8
Stanley Cup Final Ratings in New York
Game 1: 5.1
Game 2: 4.1
Game 3: 3.0
Game 4: 2.9
Game 5: 4.8