Wouldn't you know it - two big U.S. hockey markets in the Stanley Cup final, and the TV news is pretty positive?
Here are a few tidbits from the league's latest release on the ratings:
"The overnight rating of a 4.0 and 7 share for last night's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC was up 54 percent over last year's Game 5 (2.6, Detroit-Pittsburgh) and earned the best non-overtime Game 5 rating in eight years (Carolina-Detroit, 4.5, 2002 on ABC). In 2008, Detroit and Pittsburgh played a three-overtime Game 5 that generated a 4.3.
"The three-game overnight rating average on NBC of a 3.6 is the best on network television for the Stanley Cup final in eight years and a 29 percent increase over last year (2.8)."
In Canada, the figures are up, too:
"Through four games, the Final on CBC is averaging 2.83 million viewers, a 54 percent increase over last year (1.84 million)."
I'm told that may have a little to do with the revised way viewers are accounted for these days, but it's impressive nonetheless. Who knew the Flyers-Blackhawks would outdraw Crosby v. the Red Wings?
As for the top markets in the U.S., the NHL has helpfully provided those, too:
Top 10 Markets (rating/share)
1. Chicago 26.0/41 2. Philadelphia 19.7/28 3. Buffalo 10.6/15 4. Pittsburgh 5.8/9 5 Detroit 4.2/6 6. Las Vegas 3.9/6 7. Minneapolis 3.8/7 8. Fort Myers 3.7/6 9. Milwaukee 3.6/6 T10. Denver 3.3/6 T10. Columbus 3.3/5 T10. West Palm 3.3/5
So, the two home markets are at the top in a big way, which is no surprise, and Buffalo is the top non-participant, which is also not a surprise. Pittsburgh, Detroit, Minnesota, Denver and Columbus are the other NHL markets tuning in.
The non-NHL markets are always interesting, too, given the ever-present talk of relocation and expansion, and I'm sure Gary Bettman perks up at seeing Vegas on the list.
The real driver of ratings in the U.S., however, will always be the local markets, which is why the league loves to have two cities like Chicago and Philadelphia there in the finals. (Even M.J. is watching.)
Had Montreal and San Jose squeaked through the conference finals, we'd be talking about a U.S. ratings story of a different sort, I'm sure.