Guess The LA Kings/ NJ Devils Stanley Cup Final TV Viewership (Poll) + Historical Data

Categories: 1-Featured,TV Ratings Reference,TV Sports Ratings & News

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May 29th, 2012

This year's Stanley Cup Final matches the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils.

How will the TV viewership end up?

Some data that may or may not assist in your guessing:

  • Last year's 7 game SCF averaged 4.6 million viewers, the best ever for a broadcast/cable split SCF.
  • Last year featured the Boston Bruins, certainly one of the bigger TV draws in hockey.
  • Last year featured the Vancouver Canucks, who's local market did not count in the US TV ratings, which is what this poll's about (and may be all we see after the fact).
  • NBC telecast games will draw far better than cable telecast games. Games 3 & 4 are on cable, the others are on NBC. Depending on how long you expect the series to go, you may wish to adjust your guesses.
  • Besides the broadcast vs. cable factors, individual game viewership typically rises as the series goes longer. Five of the last eight series went seven games, but that's no guarantee that this year's will.
  • Last year's polled readers were a bit too optimistic.

Unfortunately, while the 2009 and 2010 Stanley Cup Final household ratings were well above those for any year since 2002, I was unable to find average viewership for the SCF as a whole for those years. I could only find the NBC telecast viewership averages (which were 6.1 million for 4 games in 2010, and 5.6 million for 5 games in 2009).

What's your guess for this year's average US TV viewership?

NHL Stanley Cup Finals TV Ratings, 1995-2011

Year Net Games HH Rating HH Share Avg. HHs (million) Avg. Viewers (million) Teams
2011 NBC/VS** 7 2.7 5  4.6 Boston v. Vancouver
2010 NBC/VS** 6 3.4 6 Chicago v. Philadelphia
2009 NBC/VS** 7 3.1 6 Pittsburgh v. Detroit
2008 NBC/VS 6 2.6 5 2.929 4.479 Pittsburgh vs. Detroit
2007 NBC/VS 5 1.2 2 1.307 1.764 Ottawa vs. Anaheim
2006 NBC/OLN** 7 1.8 3 1.994 2.834 Carolina vs,Edmonton
2005 NHL Season Cancelled
2004 *ABC/ESPN 7 2.2 4 2.366 3.286 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Calgary Flames
2003 *ABC/ESPN 7 2.4 4 2.557 3.627 New Jersey Devils vs. Anaheim Ducks
2002 ABC 3 3.6 7 3.815 5.768 Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes
2001 ABC 5 3.3 6 3.371 5.058 Colorado Avalanche vs. New Jersey Devils
2000 ABC 4 3.7 8 3.734 5.511 New Jersey Devils vs. Dallas Stars
1999 FOX 3 3.4 6 3.379 4.873 Dallas Stars vs. Buffalo Sabres
1998 FOX 1 3.3 6 3.230 4.830 Detroit Red Wings vs. Washington Capitals
1997 FOX 1 4.0 8 3.930 6.370 Detroit Red Wings vs. Philadelphia Flyers
1996 FOX 2 3.6 7 3.430 5.090 Colorado Avalanche vs. Florida Panthers
1995 FOX 2 3.4 8 3.254 5.210 New Jersey Devils vs. Detroit Red Wings

*ABC had 5 telecasts & ESPN had 2 telecasts so this is the combined average of both networks.

**2006 NBC had 5 telecasts & OLN had 2 telecasts so this is the combined average of both networks. 2009 NBC had 5 games, Versus had 2 games. 2010 NBC had 4 games, Versus had 2 games. 2011 NBC had 5 games, Versus had 2 games.

Data for 2006-11 is Live+SD, all previous years is Live viewing.

I know that average viewership and household ratings are meaningless to the business of NBC and NBCSN, but like most historical data that's all we've got.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2012 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Tyson

    Tomorrow is Game 1. The ratings will likely be OK but not very strong.

    The next four games are on Saturday, cable, cable and Saturday, respectively. Those ratings will suffer.

    If the series reaches Game 6, the viewership will be around 4.6 million. I always root for a seven-game series. So will NBC.

  • Barbarossa

    Last year we had two big established Teams in the Bruins and Canucks, plus an exciting 7 game storyline so I doubt it’ll get that high. But NJ and La have some big viewer pools to draw from, so I may be pleasently surprised.

  • Rocco

    Where are Sunday’s cable ratings?

  • Bill Gorman
  • David Howell

    Two teams in big TV markets that aren’t big draws in those markets. Difficult to handicap, and probably more suspectible than usual to series length – if it goes to game 7 in particular, it’ll become a big deal in the two biggest cities in America.

    Going with 4-4.9m, leaning the low end of that range.

  • ZJW

    A NYR/LAK certainly would have been a much bigger draw. I went with 4.0-5.0 though that assumes it makes it all the way to 7 as games 5,6,7 will all see an uptick in viewership.

  • Sean

    All depends on the length of the series.

    The NHL caught a break that the Lakers/Clippers are out of the NBA playoffs, so they have the LA market cornered. It just matters if people care about the Kings that much.

    They also caught a bad break though that there’s a Triple Crown on the line. Post/Daily News would’ve covered Rangers over I’ll Have Another. Not sure about Devils. Week leading up to the Belmont, it’s going to be tough for the Devils to get a lot of local coverage.

  • RyanCanada

    Im surprised they are so much lower than NFL and Baseball, plus Hockey is the better sport.

  • E

    I agree this is going to be a low rated series. The NY market will not have much coverage of the Devils. And, in the LA market, do enough people care? One thing NBC should do is for the Saturday game when the Belmont takes place, they should move the game to 7pm. The Belmont will be guaranteed huge ratings with the triple crown on the line. It would be wise for NBC to lead in to the hockey coverage at 7pm, instead of the hour wait until 8pm to start the hockey game. If they started at 7, they may be able to gain a few viewers to stick around for the hockey game. Not so if they have to wait an hour for the game to start.

  • Ben Thompson

    NBC probably wanted The Rangers so badly. New Jersey is not that big of a draw for the NHL. It’ll probably do better than last years numbers since they’ll have two US teams but probably lower than 2009 and 2010. Hopefully this goes to 7 games.

  • Bill Gorman

    ” It’ll probably do better than last years numbers since they’ll have two US teams but probably lower than 2009 and 2010.”

    While it’s highly dependent on the number of games, I think that’s a pretty good guess.

  • Joseph

    Also, the top two TV markets (Newark, the Devils’ home is across the Hudson from New York City) are involved.

    Had the New York Rangers won the East, I would have expected the Stanley Cup Finals to be the most-watched ever on U.S. television, maybe by a wide margin.

    One question: If one team wins the first three games, would Game 4 be moved from the NBC Sports Network to NBC’s broadcast network??

    (Personally, I’d prefer that the entire series be on NBC’s broadcast network; I believe the ratings would be significantly higher since people would know where to tune-in and not wonder “Which Channel Is The Game On??”.

  • Chris

    Keep in mind that when Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers in 1989, he went to the Los Angeles Kings. His star power and Hollywood proximity fueled a lot more interest in the Kings and that interest was renewed with the team’s unlikely playoff run. Being a big market team, the Kings should be a big draw despite being in a warm-climate city. The New Jersey Devils on the other hand is in the hockey-loving part of the country as winters are cold there. Though the Devils are located in the nation’s largest media market, they don’t tend to be picked on by the New York media like the Rangers are. Still, there are a lot of fans in New Jersey, and they’re going to support their team whether at the game, at a bar/restaurant, or at home. 4.5 million is my guess, and if the series goes the distance, 5 million average.

  • bk8718

    I think a hair lower than last year’s ratings. Somewhere around 4.2-4.3 mill.

    Yeah, New York and LA are big markets, but neither team is really all that prominent in the local culture. The Kings aren’t going to draw as well as the Lakers or Clippers, and even without those two teams they may get crowded out by the Dodgers and Angels. And if you want to move the needle in NY for hockey, you need the Rangers. The Devils are kind of the red-jerseyed stepchild there as far as hockey goes. Even the Islanders would probably be a bigger draw than the Devils in NY (if they ever get their act together…)

    I do think the series is going to go 6+ games, which will help. And it’s certainly going to beat ’07 and ’06 handily. But I think this will be the lowest rated of the last four years, maybe even the last five.

  • Nick

    4.7-4.9 million viewers

  • Nadine Harris

    Should be pretty good because of the large population of New Jersey. There will be few NY fans, unless they’re diehard hockeyniks. Hard to image too many left coast people watching it with their beansprouts, though. Should do last year’s numbers, maybe a few less.

  • Nadine Harris

    yeah, don’t assume the “NY market” cares much about the Devils. They have virtually no following on the right side of the Hudson.

  • Alien

    You know what if NBC can do slightly better than the Devils/Ducks back in ’03 on ABC then I would consider this series a success.

    This is the first Stanley Cup Final since 2007 where we didn’t have established franchises with huge draws on a national level but the markets are huge plus the NHL has grown their audiences in recent years. This year’s playoffs on NBCSN were always pretty high this year if they can more than double that for the Stanley Cup Finals they should be okay.

    As the first poster mentioned this series needs to go to 7 games for NBC and the league’s benefit obviously.

    The Los Angeles and New York media markets may have to really hype this series. I know in LA there’s a lot of bandwagon hockey fans right now so that may help things as well.

    I think the league still would’ve really benefited had the Rangers got in there instead of the Devils.

  • iggy.

    The King will continue to steamroll. Better luck next year.

  • Hugh

    Low 4s

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