SBJ/June 11 - 17, 2007/This Weeks News

NBC, Versus Cup ratings do not runneth over

The Anaheim Ducks won one of the lowest-rated Stanley Cup Finals in history last week, with Versus and NBC posting alarmingly low viewership numbers.

Viewer numbers for the first four games of the finals dropped 21 percent from the first four games of last year’s Stanley Cup finals. This year, Versus and NBC attracted an average of 1.477 million viewers through the first four games; last year, the networks’ Stanley Cup Finals games attracted an average of 1.861 million viewers.

The comparison is even tougher judged against 2004, the last finals before the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season. Average viewers for the first four games of this year’s finals were down 25 percent from the first four games of 2004’s finals, which averaged 1.969 million viewers on ESPN and ABC.

This year’s series saw the league’s network partners suffer historic ratings lows. NBC’s broadcast of Game 3 on Saturday, June 2, became the network’s lowest-rated night ever, when it averaged a 1.1 rating and 1.6 million viewers during the 8-11 p.m. window.

Overnight ratings for Game 5 on Wednesday, June 6, showed NBC pulling a 2.5 rating/4 share, which was down 13.8 percent from last year’s Game 5, also on a Wednesday night on NBC.

When asked whether the poor ratings weakened the network’s commitment to televising the sport, an NBC spokesman pointed to the network’s decision in March to extend its revenue-sharing TV deal with the league through the 2007-08 season, with NBC holding an option for the 2008-09 season.

Versus’ Game 1 coverage  May 28 attracted 769,000 viewers and drew a 0.5 U.S. household rating. Its coverage of Game 2 May 30 attracted 756,000 viewers and earned a 0.4 U.S. household rating.

While low by comparison to the past few years, the viewer numbers represent a bump for Versus in the time period.

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