Update: In final viewership, Game 4 was actually up slightly year over year. Here’s more from NBC’s release on that:
Last night’s series-tying Stanley Cup Final Game 4 between Boston and St. Louis averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 5.249 million on NBC, which ranks as NBC’s third-most watched Stanley Cup Final Game 4 on record, according to Fast National data from Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics.
The game is up +1% from last year’s Vegas/Washington Game 4 on NBC (5.172 million).
…Viewing to the game peaked from 10:30-10:45 p.m. with 5.838 million viewers.
Our original post based on the overnight ratings, which were slightly down year-over-year, follows.
The Stanley Cup Final ratings so far aren’t great by the standards of the past few years. Blues-Bruins Game 1’s 3.67 overnight on NBC was close to last year’s 3.72 and up from 2017’s 3.49, while Game 2’s 2.6 overnight on NBCSN was down seven percent from 2018. Boston’s 7-2 win in Game 3 Saturday recorded a 2.1 overnight on NBCSN, a three-year low, and the closer Game 4 Monday (a 4-2 win for St. Louis) also hit a three-year low, pulling a 3.84 on NBC (down just slightly from last year’s 3.9, but down seven percent from 2017).
As Paulsen notes at Sports Media Watch, that’s the fourth-highest mark for a Game 4 aired by NBC’s networks. But the important context to keep in mind there is that only eight of those have aired on broadcast NBC; Versus/NBCSN aired Games 3 and 4 (instead of the current 2 and 3) from 2009-12, and again from 2014-15. So this is middle of the pack at best, and below the last couple of years.
However, there is some good news for NBC on the cable ratings front. Game 3 marked the last game they’re showing on cable this year (the rest will be on broadcast NBC), and that gave them a chance to talk up improved cable ratings in their release.
Across 67 games for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, NBC Sports averaged a TAD of 1.076 million viewers, the second-best Stanley Cup Playoff delivery in 22 years, the fourth-best cable delivery on record, and up 2% vs. last year (1.053 million).
A two percent uptick certainly isn’t huge, but those numbers aren’t bad considering that that includes a lot of first-round games, some of which were competing with each other. So the playoffs as a whole have gone decently for NBC, and even these Stanley Cup Final ratings aren’t disastrous.
The 2019 final is going to work out better overall for NBC, though, thanks to series length. Last year saw the Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights in five games, and this one’s going at least six thanks to the Blues equalizing the series at two with Monday’s win. And there’s a possibility of a Game 7, which hasn’t happened since 2011 (a series also involving Boston). So there could still be ratings rewards to come. But so far, while Blues-Bruins hasn’t fallen off a cliff, and while it’s been better than series like 2016’s San Jose Sharks-Pittsburgh Penguins clash, it’s been a bit below the past few years.