It’s one game, but for the markets involved, the number is very big.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final received a 10.1 metered market rating in New York – meaning roughly 10 per cent of the households were tuned in – which is a record for NBC and its affiliate NBCSN for an NHL game in the city.
In Los Angeles, the number was lower but probably even more impressive, as at 7.1 it was higher than all but the final two games of the 2012 final between the Kings and Devils.
And you can expect that when one team gets closer to clinching the Cup, that number goes up substantially.
Overall, the game averaged 4.8 million viewers – winning the night in prime time among viewers 19 to 49 – making it the second-most watched first game of the final since the Stars and Sabres met in 1999 and all of Buffalo tuned in.
It’s going to be tough to beat last year’s Chicago-Boston final in terms of hockey markets involved, but with the two biggest U.S. cities involved, you never know.
These were the top 10 markets watching in the U.S. for the Kings-Rangers game:
The NHL is locked in its 10-year TV deal with NBC until 2021, so it’s not like these numbers are going to pay immediate dividends.
Where the league and commissioner Gary Bettman are getting that, however, is in the incredible amount of revenue the Kings have been raking in during games.
According to ESPN, the team set a record in Game 1 for both tickets sold and merchandise bought, with the Kings making a record on food, beverage and merchandise sales that exceeded $1-million in just the one night.
“We’ve been breaking a lot of records this year, including record sponsorship revenue and record ratings,” Kings president Dan Beckerman told ESPN.
As we covered off during the conference finals, all this revenue growth means big things for the cap next year.
The NHL was already guaranteed to hit a record revenue number – expected to be more than $3.6-billion – for the year, but having the Kings and Rangers still playing is only going to boost both. Every extra dollar they bring in also raises the cap, with every $20-million in revenue the rough equivalent to a $400,000 higher ceiling.
Why that’s happening even without Canadian teams involved is pretty simple. The Rangers are the league’s highest revenue franchise in the U.S.; the Kings are in the top 10 and second to only Chicago in the West.
Bettman couldn’t have hoped for a better matchup, in other words, and now all the league needs is a competitive, drawn out series to add a few more dollars and a few more eyeballs in.
They’re Rangers fans for the moment.