Wednesday night’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins brought great ratings rewards for NBC. The overnights were the best in at least 25 years, and the final numbers followed suit. As per a NBC release, this seems to be the most-watched NHL game ever measured in the U.S.:
Last night’s 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7, in which the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-1, to capture their first-ever Stanley Cup, averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of nearly 9 million viewers (8.914), making it the most-watched NHL game on record and propelling the seven-game Stanley Cup Final and 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to numerous viewership and streaming milestones, according to Fast National data from Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics.
…Despite a 4-0 score late in the third period and an eventual three-goal victory by the Blues, Game 7 (8-11 p.m. ET) averaged a TAD of 8.914 million viewers across NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, making it the most-watched NHL game on record and up 4% vs. the previous Game 7 eight years earlier between the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks (June 5, 2011), which averaged a TV-only 8.537 million viewers on NBC. Digital streaming was not yet available at that time. Game 7 was also up 35% compared to viewership for Blues-Bruins Game 6 on Sunday night (6.610 million viewers).
…The TAD of 8.914 million does not include the numerous large-scale viewership parties in both cities, with some reporting attendance at those events in excess of 40,000.
That’s pretty remarkable. Of course, “most-watched on record” comes with a caveat: the release says this is “believed to be the most-watched NHL game in 45+ years, when different measurement tools were used to record viewership, making it difficult to verify.” But it certainly does seem like this was the most-watched one in at least a long while.
Of course, a Game Seven (where either team can win the title) is likely to draw better than a regular game, and two of the best previous ratings come from Game Sevens (the 8.5 million in 2011 mentioned above, which was the most recent Game Seven, and also the 8.0 million in 2009 for Detroit-Pittsburgh). However, Game Six drew 8.0 million for Chicago-Tampa Bay in 2015, and a Game Six for Chicago-Boston in 2013 drew 8.2 million. So it’s still notable to see these kind of numbers.
It’s also interesting that this led to the the most-watched NHL playoffs in over two decades. As per NBC, this wound up as the most-watched Stanley Cup Final since 2015, with an average total audience delivery of 5.468 million viewers. With an average of 1.530 million viewers for 86 games across NBC platforms, this also was the most-watched overall playoffs since 1996 (1.564 million viewers for 61 games across ESPN, ESPN2 and FOX.) And that isn’t just about good ratings for the Final; the ratings were already the best on record through two rounds, although at that point they were only up one percent over 2018, a difference from the six percent gain they wound up recording for the whole playoffs. So this is some excellent news overall for NBC, and only part of that is about having a Game 7.