(Ed Note: This article first appeared on Bloguin’s NHL site Puck Drunk Love. Visit PDL for all your Stanley Cup Final coverage.)
If you’re a Kings fan or a neutral hockey fan that took in LA’s OT win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, you probably enjoyed the action quite a bit. Unfortunately, there weren’t that many people watching with you.
Steve Lepore of PucktheMedia.com offered a nice recap of the ratings from Game 1 on Twitter, offering a troubled look at how ratings in Game 1 left a lot to be desired.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
The NBA (Celtics vs. Heat) on ESPN beat Game 1 both in Los Angeles (6.1 to 4.2) and in New York (7.4 to 5.1). This is a disappointing fact but not one that’s completely negative – more on that later in this article.
Overall NBC drew a 2.4 overnight rating for Game 1, a rating that fell well short of last year’s Game 1 between Boston and Vancouver that drew a 3.2. The NBA Draft Lottery on ESPN also edged Game 1 by a narrow margin, 2.95 million viewers to 2.9 million.
We’ll end the bad news there. Summarized, the first game of the Stanley Cup Final failed to move the needle as far as ratings were concerned. This was a fear entering the series from those that believed the New York Rangers failing to make the Final could have a negative impact on ratings. So far, it looks like they’re right.
Still, there’s good news here too.
New York was dialed in despite the Rangers exit, drawing a 5.1 in the ratings. Meanwhile Los Angeles drew a 4.2 – a number that indicates tremendous growth when compared to the market’s 2.9 rating in Game 5 against Phoenix. Granted, Game 5 wasn’t on network television, but you get the picture that LA residents are tuning in.
You might expect the home markets of the Devils and Kings to do well in the ratings. No surprise there. So who else tuned in for Game 1?
Buffalo answered the call leading the way with a whopping 7.8 – a number that bested both New York and Los Angeles.
Tying for the third spot with Los Angeles was Minneapolis/St. Paul (3.8) with Pittsburgh (3.5) and Oklahoma City (3.5) close behind.
Wait, Oklahoma City? Surprisingly, this isn’t a typo. The very city that features an NBA team but not an NHL team was one of the top cities when it comes to ratings from across the country. Not Chicago. Not Detroit. This fact may be pointed to at some point in the future if the NHL decides to reopen the idea of placing a hockey team in Oklahoma – an idea that has been toyed with in the past.
While the ratings for Game 1 weren’t impressive, this doesn’t mean the series as a whole will disappoint. It does mean that the NHL will be rooting for bigger returns, especially in major hockey cities such as the previously mentioned Chicago and Detroit, moving forward.