The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs are doing very well so far for TBS and TNT. WBD Sports announced Tuesday that their first-round coverage across those networks was up 18 percent year over year, and the most-watched first-round coverage ever on cable, and that Sunday’s Game 7 of the Boston Bruins-Florida Panthers series set particular records:
WBD Sports Delivers Record-Breaking Viewership for First Round of #StanleyCupPlayoffs:
? First Round Coverage Is Most Watched First Round on Cable All-Time, Up 18% vs. 2022
— Warner Bros. Discovery Sports U.S. PR (@WBDSportsPR) May 2, 2023
Here’s more from that release:
TNT’s telecast of the Florida Panthers’ incredible come-from-behind victory over the Boston Bruins netted 3.2 million viewers, the most watched first round game of all-time on cable and the most watched first round game on any network in over a decade (Bruins/Capitals, 4/22/12). Viewership peaked at 4.1 million from 9:30-9:56 p.m. ET.
TNT’s telecast of the Seattle Kraken taking out the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche also drew in more than 2 million viewers, the most watched late window game of the first round ever.
TNT and TBS combined to average 959,000 viewers during the networks’ first round coverage, the most watched first round on cable all time, and up 18% vs. 2022.
The ratings for any particular round are situational, of course, with matchups and series length playing a large role there. And this year’s playoffs have had some long series, with no sweeps amongst the eight first-round series, only one lasting just five games, and three going a full seven games. (TNT got the two aforementioned Game 7s Sunday, and ESPN also got one Monday with the New Jersey Devils’ win over the New York Rangers.)
However, last season (the first where games were split between ESPN and WBD channels after a long run with NBC and its channels) saw five first-round series go seven games, two go six, and only one end in a sweep. So it’s not series length or channels really responsible for the year-over-year growth here. Maybe it’s Gordo St. John.
More seriously, there seems to be a positive trend here for both WBD and ESPN. And both of those networks are also seeing good ratings for their NBA playoff coverage. So it seems like pretty good times all around for them right now.
[WBD Sports; top photo of the Panthers’ Nick Cousins celebrating that Game 7 win from Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports]