SBD/June 12, 2013/Media

Original Six Matchup In Stanley Cup Final Could Prove A Ratings Boon For NBC

The Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final matchup is the first Original Six Final since Canadiens-Rangers in '79, and for series broadcaster NBC, it is "hard to imagine a better scenario," according to Ed Sherman of SHERMANREPORT.com. If it is a "compelling, tight series, NBC stands to break its network record for a Stanley Cup Final." The series has "two large-market teams with passionate followings," as Chicago is No. 3 with nearly 3.5 million TV homes, while Boston is No. 7 with 2.366 million homes. Both teams "did huge ratings during their last visits" to the Final. Large ratings from the Chicago and Boston markets will "have a dramatic impact on NBC’s national number again," as interest in hockey has "increased in both towns since winning the Cup." Those local ratings "might be even higher." A Blackhawks-Penguins Final with Penguins C Sidney Crosby "might have had a bit more star power," but it is "hard to beat the romance of two Original 6ers from storied hockey towns playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 6/10).

NHL STANLEY CUP FINAL AUDIENCE TREND (NBC/NBC SPORTS NETWORK)
YEAR
MATCHUP
GAMES
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'12
Kings-Devils
6
1.8
3,000
'11
Bruins-Canucks
7
2.7
4,590
'10
Blackhawks-Flyers
6
2.9
5,170
'09
Penguins-Red Wings
7
2.7
4,906
'08
Red Wings-Penguins
6
2.6
4,555
'07
Ducks-Senators
5
1.2
1,800
'06
Hurricanes-Oilers
7
1.8
2,831
       

IMPARTIAL OBSERVER: Sherman in a piece for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE notes NBC analyst and former Blackhawks player Ed Olczyk, who will call the games alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick, "knows there will be Bruins fans who will accuse him of favoritism toward the Hawks." He "insists he has the same approach with Emrick as he does" with Blackhawks TV announcer Pat Foley. He admits that there "might be a bit more 'shtick' as far as nicknames and other banter during local telecasts of Hawks games." However, he "didn't become one of the best in the business by playing favorites." How much longer Olczyk will "be in that chair" is unknown. Olczyk said he has the "best job in the world," but added he has some "unfinished business" after the Penguins fired him as coach in '05. He now "sounds as if the itch is intensifying to return as a coach or as a front office executive at some level." It "might not happen next year, but to hear him talk, it wouldn't be a surprise if he jumped back in sooner than later" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/12).

GOING STRONG
: The first three rounds of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs across NBC, CNBC and NBC Sports Network have averaged 1.074 million viewers, down slightly from last year, but still strong enough for the second-best audience in 16 years. That dates back to Fox and ESPN combining for 1.237 million viewers in ’97. NBC is averaging 2.4 million viewers through three rounds (+12%), while NBCSN is averaging 1.1 million viewers (+10%). After the three networks started with a sharp drop for the Conference Quarterfinal round, the NHL rebounded during the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals. NBC and NBCSN combined to average 2.646 for its nine telecasts from the Blackhawks-Kings and Bruins-Penguins series, up 111% from eight telecasts last year (Devils-Rangers and Kings-Coyotes) and marking the most-viewed Conference Finals in 17 years (Panthers-Penguins and Avalanche-Red Wings). NBCSN’s seven telecasts during the Conference Finals this year averaged 2.3 million viewers, up 90% from '12 and ranking as the best Conference Finals average on cable TV since ’96 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
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