The Vegas Golden Knights’ victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday delivered a 3.72 overnight rating, NBC announced, making it the best-rated Game 1 since 2015.
— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) May 29, 2018
Per NBC, Monday night’s game was up 7 percent from Predators/Penguins last year and up 36 percent from Sharks/Penguins in 2016. The game drew a massive 28.08 overnight in Las Vegas and a 16.02 in D.C.
NBC’s strong ratings for Game 1 follows a postseason full of impressive viewership. Through the end of the conference finals, the NHL playoffs were up 9 percent from last year, with their biggest audience since 2013. The league has benefited from long series, close games and compelling storylines — culminating with Alexander Ovechkin and the long-suffering Capitals against the expansion Golden Knights in what is basically the dream matchup for a casual hockey fan.
NBC can feel especially good about its Game 1 audience Monday given that Washington-Vegas was almost directly up against Game 7 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals on TNT, which likely bit into the audience. None of the remaining six Stanley Cup Final games is scheduled to go head to head with the NBA.
Stanley Cup Final ratings on NBC have generally trended in the right direction over the last decade, averaging at least a 2.4 in each of the past five seasons and peaking with a 3.3 in 2013. However, NBC (which has had Stanley Cup ratings since 2006) has never averaged better than a 3.0 in a series that didn’t include the Chicago Blackhawks. Will that streak end with the Capitals and Golden Knights this year? We can’t say for sure, but things are certainly off to the right start.