Florida Panthers Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

While American viewership for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night was somewhat middling, it was a somewhat different story north of the border.

A strong showing in Canada propelled Game 1 to 7.1 million North American viewers per the NHL, the most-watched Stanley Cup Final Game 1 since 2019, and an increase of 43 percent overall from last year.

As discussed over the weekend, Game 1 of the Panthers-Oilers series averaged 3.1 million viewers on ABC, up 12 percent from Game 1 of last year’s Panthers-Golden Knights series on TNT. Including the American audience only, Game 1 was the second most-watched of the last five years, behind just Avalanche-Lightning in 2022 on ABC. Dialing back further, the American audience was the fifth-lowest for a Game 1 in the last 15 years, showing how much the league’s viewership has dropped off recently.

The strong performance of the series in Canada isn’t that surprising. Edmonton is the first Canadian team in the Final since the Montreal Canadiens in the pandemic-impacted 2021 season and the first in a full-length season since the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.

Despite the increase for Game 1 compared to last year, the series might remain a tough sell in the United States. While Connor McDavid is a megastar, the inclusion of the Canadian Oilers will inevitably dampen some interest of American fans. Additionally, a Sun Belt team in the Panthers participating (the fifth straight year a team from Florida has been in the Final) will likely have a similar impact on some hockey fans, as stereotypical as it may sound.

Game 2 airs on Monday, June 10  on ABC, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.