Blues-Bruins Game 7 Ends As Most-Watched NHL Game On Record
NBC wrapped up the '19 Stanley Cup Final with the most-watched NHL game on record (dating back to when Nielsen adjusted its measurement in '94). Blues-Bruins Game 7 on Wednesday night averaged a total audience delivery (TV+streaming) of 8.91 million viewers, surpassing the 8.54 million TV-only viewers for Bruins-Canucks Game 7 back in '11. Looking further back than '94, the most-watched NHL game was Canadiens-Blackhawks in '71, which drew 12.41 million viewers on CBS. The superlative also excludes any Olympic hockey games, such as the 27.6 million viewers NBC averaged for Canada’s overtime win over the U.S. in the men’s Gold Medal game at the '10 Vancouver Games or that same matchup in the Gold Medal game at the '02 Salt Lake City Games (17.1 million viewers). Blues-Bruins on Wednesday night drew a TV-only audience of 8.72 million viewers and was supported by NBC Digital's best NHL streaming audience yet (average minute audience of 191,500 viewers). Game 7 peaked at 10.4 million viewers and delivered NBC a primetime win (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
IMPRESSIVE SHOWING: AD AGE's Anthony Crupi writes the size of the Blues-Bruins Game 7 audience "dwarfed the turnout for nearly every entertainment broadcast that NBC aired" during the '18-19 season. All told, only seven episodes of NBC's scripted series "topped Wednesday night's deliveries." While the game drew a larger overall audience than Bruins-Canucks Game 7 in '11, the Blues-Bruins broadcast "didn't fare nearly as well in the dollar demo." Wednesday's game "scared up 3.48 million adults 18-49, or a 2.0 rating, about 1 million viewers shy of the 4.45 million demographically desirable viewers that tuned in" for Game 7 of the '11 Cup Final (ADAGE.com, 6/14). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes the 41.8 local rating for Blues-Bruins Game 7 was the "top figure for any program shown in the Gateway City in nearly 2 1/2 years." That number "demolished the previous hockey ratings mark, 33.0 for Game 6." However, Wednesday's rating "did not rival the last Cardinals' Game 7 of a World Series" in '11. Nielsen said that 60% of homes in the St. Louis market with a TV on while the game was being played were "tuned to the contest" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/14).
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The seven-game Blues-Bruins series averaged a TAD of 5.47 million viewers, marking the most-watched Cup Final since the six-game Blackhawks-Lightning averaged 5.6 million viewers in '15. This year is the third-best viewership for an NHL Final on record. Blues-Bruins is up 11% from the five-game Capitals-Golden Knights series last year. The seven games this year also had an average minute audience of 137,800 streaming viewers. For the complete playoffs -- 86 games across NBC, NBCSN, USA, CNBC and digital outlets -- this year's postseason averaged 1.53 million viewers, marking the most-watched NHL playoffs in 23 years (1.56 million in '94 for 61 games across ESPN, ESPN2, Fox). Last year, the playoffs averaged 1.45 million viewers (Karp).