Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Blackhawks on Saturday night drew a 2.9 overnight rating, the best ever for a Conference Final on NBC. Once again, the NHL managed to top MLB in primetime, with the Kings-Blackhawks game picking up 3.32 million viewers, a 2.9 overnight rating, and a 1.1 overnight rating in the 18-49 demo, while Fox's slate of MLB games drew 3.21 million viewers and a 0.7 overnight rating in the 18-49 demo. (UPDATE: MLB actually outrated the NHL in total overnight rating 3.2 to 2.9).
The Western Conference Final was slightly down compared to Game 1 of the Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference Final last Saturday, which drew 3.43 million viewers and a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo. Once again, MLB's viewership and ratings were flat compared to last week for a slate that was highlighted by the Angels-Red Sox in the northeast and west coast and the Reds-Cardinals in the midwest and south.
The NHL is simply rolling along heading into the Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Bruins and Blackhawks, and they should be shattering records. The Blackhawks' clincher on Saturday did a 19.6 rating in the local Chicago market, the highest ever for a non-Stanley Cup Final game, and the game ended up doing a massive 37 share as well.
However, one silly note coming out of all of this NBC hoopla: Game 2 of the series on Saturday will be broadcast on NBCSN as opposed to the main broadcast station. It's a little ridiculous for this series to potentially go seven games, and have just one weekend game take place on NBC, but that's the situation we're in right now. The worst part is that on my program guide, Game 1 of the Final is listed as airing on NBC following coverage of the US Open, but with the Conference Finals finishing quickly, the entire timetable has been shifted ahead and the series will begin on Wednesday on NBC, with Game 2 taking place on NBCSN. Imagine if the Final went head to head on broadcast TV with MLB once again, and the NHL kicked MLB on Fox in the teeth once again. The chances of that happening for the fourth straight week take a huge hit with the Final's shift to cable for Games 2 and 3.