After three games, this year's Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils is in danger of having the second lowest TV viewership average since at least 1995 (perhaps earlier, I lack the data). Our polled readers turned out to have been wildly optimistic.
- Game 1, NBC, 2.90 million average viewers (vs. 4.56m for last year's game 1 on NBC)
- Game 2, NBC, 2.94 million (vs. 3.57m last year on NBC)
- Game 3, NBCSN, 1.74 million (vs. 2.76m last year on Versus)
- Because of the strike compressed NBA season, Stanley Cup Final matches have gone head to head with NBA Conference Finals games which would not be the case during a normal NBA season.
- While LA and NY are the two largest US TV markets, neither team generates enthusiasm among a significant portion of those large markets, as opposed to how Boston, Chicago, Detroit or Pittsburgh would.
NHL Stanley Cup Finals TV Ratings, 1995-2011
|Year||Net||Games||Household||Household Share||Average Households (million)||Average 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|
|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.
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).
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2012 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.