Florida Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues (17) celebrates scoring against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The excitement over seeing a Canadian team back in the Stanley Cup Final helped drive some positive numbers for Game 1 between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers, at least compared to last year.

ESPN announced on Sunday that Florida’s 3-0 win over the Oilers on Saturday, which was televised on ABC, averaged 3.1 million viewers per Nielsen fast-nationals.

That number was up 12% from last year’s Game 1 between the Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights, which was broadcast on the Warner Bros. Discovery networks (TNT, TBS, truTV) and garnered an audience of 2.75 million. However, it was also down 26% from the last Game 1 broadcast on ABC, 2022’s Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche, which garnered 4.20 million viewers.

The 2024 game’s audience peaked at 3.65 million overall and 1.1 million in the 18-49 demo. While it was the second most-watched Game 1 of the past five years, that stretch also includes two cable broadcasts and the COVID bubble year.

If you want to get hyperspecific, according to Sports Media Watch, the game is the second most-watched Game 1 involving a Canadian team in the last 30 years, trailing only 2011’s Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks (4.56 million).

If the Oilers can make it a series, it bodes well for where the ratings can go from here. As it stands, the ESPN/ABC networks are averaging 1.45 million viewers for Stanley Cup playoff games this year, which is up 26% from 2023 and up 16% from 2022.

[ESPN PR, Sports Media Watch]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.