NBC's Stanley Cup Final Game 1 Viewership Down From '13, But Second-Best Since '99
NBC finished with a 3.0 rating and 4.78 million viewers for the Kings' OT win over the Rangers in Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, down 23% and 25%, respectively, from a 3.9 rating and 6.36 million viewers for the Blackhawks-Bruins triple-OT finish in Game 1 last year. However, the audience was up 67% and 65%, respectively, from a 1.8 rating and 2.902 million viewers for the Kings' OT win over the Devils in Game 1 in '12. Despite the sharp drop, Game 1 this year remains NBC's second-best audience for a Cup Final Game 1 on record and second-best overall since Fox' telecast of Stars-Sabres in '99. Wednesday night's game (8:00-11:17pm ET) peaked at 5.7 million viewers from 10:45-11:00pm (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
MISSING THE MADHOUSE? In Boston, Chad Finn notes the Final includes the top two TV markets, but Chicago, the No. 3 market, is "hockey-mad" compared to L.A. That was "evidenced by its humongous" 22.7 local rating for Game 7 of the Kings-Blackhawks Western Conference Final, compared to a 4.8 for L.A. That "gap illustrates why having the top two television markets actually is not the best-case scenario for NBC and NBCSN." It also "does not help" that the games begin at 5:00pm PT rather than in primetime. But that is a "small gripe for NBC, if it's a gripe at all" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/6). In Chicago, Mark Lazerus writes the NHL "has what, on paper, at least, is a dream matchup" in Rangers-Kings. But "you can be sure NHL and NBC executives were despondent" when the Kings advanced to the Final. Chicago "might be No. 3 in population, but it’s an undisputed No. 1 in terms of American hockey markets." The Blackhawks draw "big numbers across the country, and massive numbers in Chicago." L.A. drew only a 7.1 local rating for Game 1 of the Final, ranking third behind N.Y. (10.1) and Buffalo (8.5). The "tepid numbers" in N.Y. and L.A. "illustrate just how far the NHL has to go to catch up to the rest of the so-called Big Four North American pro sports leagues." This series "could help," as it is a "marquee matchup, with marketable stars" such as Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist and Kings D Drew Doughty. Even if it is not Blackhawks-Bruins, it will "certainly draw more eyeballs" than Hurricanes-Oilers in '06 or Lightning-Flames in '04 (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/6). NBC Sports said that its live stream of Wednesday's Game 1 drew 178,000 unique viewers, a new record (THE DAILY).
SHOW & TELL: In California, Michael Lev writes something viewers will notice during the Final is "how swiftly" NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk is "able to size up and telestrate a goal or scoring opportunity." His "knack for seeing the entire ice surface and figuring out what happened in a matter of seconds is remarkable," but he "has some help." Olczyk "works closely" with Producer Matt Marvin and Associate Producer Tim Nelson. They have been "together for years, and it shows." NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said, “They have a system in place where they know where to go and Eddie is constantly on talk-back, hitting the key point where he wants the replay queued to." Lev notes even with "high definition and multiple replay angles, sometimes it’s hard to tell how a goal was scored amid the frenzied action on the ice," but Olczyk and his teammates "bring clarity to the chaos" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/6).