After a four-year run of big market matchups with exciting storylines and rivalries, the Stanley Cup Finals took a dip and hit a five-year low.
The Stanley Cup Finals averaged 3.0 million viewers over six telecasts between NBC and the NBC Sports Network, down 33% from the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and the worst average since 2007 (Ottawa vs. Anaheim), which ironically also featured a California team. The most-watched game of the series was Game 6, which drew 4.93 million viewers.
My personal take on the numbers is that, while not great, the numbers on NBC Sports Network were still pretty decent, considering all who complain about that channel not being available. The LA market numbers are encouraging, and you have to hope some of those people stick with the game. And in the end, it's still a lot better than that Ottawa-Anaheim series, which was considered rock bottom for the league on TV five years ago. The TV deal's not going anywhere, so we move on.
Overall, the Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged 1.0 million viewers for the post-season, the best audience since ESPN averaged 1.3 million for the 2002 Playoffs. NBC and NBC Sports Network combined averaged 1.4 million viewers, up 3% from last year. NBC alone, however, was the lone negative, with their viewership dropping 21%, mostly from the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.
One thing I will say: I hope these numbers don't prevent L.A. from getting the national television exposure. Los Angeles deserves the opening night game, at least one NBC slot and a Hockey Day in America game. The NHL schedule should be out by the end of June, so we'll see if things work out.
Stanley Cup Final Audience Averages Since 2007 on NBC and NBC Sports Network/VERSUS
2007, Ottawa vs. Anaheim - 1.8 million
2008, Pittsburgh vs. Detroit - 4.5 million
2009, Pittsburgh vs. Detroit - 4.9 million
2010, Philadelphia vs. Chicago - 5.1 million
2011, Boston vs. Vancouver - 4.5 million
2012, Los Angeles vs. New Jersey - 3.0 million