Both the NBA and NHL have had very good playoff seasons on television. The NBA has posted its typical big numbers on both network and cable. Through two rounds, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the most-watched ever on cable as well as up on broadcast, so everyone’s doing well.
Unfortunately, the Montreal Canadiens have not necessarily brought it to the Eastern Conference Final, meaning one of the NHL’s series is a bit DOA. It has shown so far in the numbers. Game 1 of the Rangers-Habs series on NBC, a blowout, drew a 1.2 overnight rating, with no comparable coverage from last year, though they were up slightly from 2012’s Eastern Conference Final.
Sunday, however, both the NBA and NHL had good numbers. Game 1 of Heat-Pacers drew a fantastic 5.8 overnight, up huge from last year’s comparable game between the Grizzlies and Spurs (3.9). Meanwhile, Game 1 of Kings-Blackhawks drew a 1.9 rating, with no comparable 2013 game, but well up from Coyotes-Kings in 2012 (1.1).
One problem spot for the NHL remains the Los Angeles market. Game 1 of the Kings’ third consecutive Western Conference Final drew a 2.1 rating in the market. For comparison, the Pacers-Heat game drew a 6.1 rating in the same timeslot.
Monday night continued the Habs descent towards the golf courses, and NBCSN suffered a bit. The 1.47M viewers were down big from the 2.6M for Game 2 of Bruins-Penguins from last year. However, the series is still up from 2012’s Rangers-Devils series, the Game 2 of which drew 1.34M.
Meanwhile, the NBA continued to do fine. Game 1 of Thunder-Spurs drew 6.36M viewers on TNT. Game 1 of Grizzlies-Spurs last year was, as we mentioned, on ABC. But to give you an idea of where the Western Conference Final is this year compared to last year… Game 2 of that Grizzlies-Spurs series could do no better than 4.62M, and that was following the NBA’s 2013 Draft Lottery.
We’ll see if the Kings and Canadiens can make things competitive for the NHL’s third round, but the NBA appears on its way to a classic final four.