Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) protects the puck from Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman (77) during second period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto on April 27.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs playing into the second round helped push the total English-Canadian TV viewership higher for this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs on Sportsnet and CBC. But the joy was brief, as ratings for the final fell about 8 per cent from last year’s edition.

The average TV audience across all four rounds was up two per cent over last year, according to a statement on Thursday by Sportsnet.

The broadcaster declined to provide specific viewership figures across all of the four rounds, but it did tell The Globe and Mail that the five-game matchup between Las Vegas and Florida pulled in an average viewership of 1.8 million a game. That was down from the 1.96 million on average who tuned in for last year’s final between Colorado and Tampa Bay.

Sportsnet also said the reach figure – the total number of viewers who tuned in for at least a portion of one game – hit 23.1 million this year, up five per cent from last year’s reach of 22 million.

The TV viewership figures, which were provided by Sportsnet from the ratings service Numeris, do not include the broadcaster’s Sportsnet Now streaming service, where it claimed the total number of streams started was up 63 per cent over last year. It cited its own in-house statistics for that measurement, which could not be independently verified.

Cathal Kelly: Phil Kessel’s success in Vegas proves players are people, not statistics

This year’s NHL playoffs began promisingly for Sportsnet, with the first-round victory by the Leafs over Tampa Bay pulling in an average viewership of 3 million, up more than 10 per cent from the 2.7 million who watched the same matchup last year. Game 6, when the Leafs clinched this year’s series, pulled in an impressive 4.4 million on average, up from the 3.8 million on average who watched last year’s Game 7 victory by Tampa.

This year’s first-round faceoff between Edmonton and Los Angeles also pulled in higher ratings, with the series earning 1.7 million viewers on average, up more than 20 per cent over last year’s 1.4 million average.

But the exits of all three Canadian teams that had made this year’s playoffs – Toronto, Edmonton, and Winnipeg – before the third round once again hurt Sportsnet, which had banked on some deep runs by Canadian teams to justify its mammoth $5.2-billion, 12-year deal for national NHL rights in 2013.

Since Sportsnet’s parent Rogers Communications Inc. signed the deal, the 2021 Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian team to make the final. That series pulled in 3.6 million viewers on Sportsnet and CBC, plus more than 1-million on TVA.

Though this year’s final once again featured two American teams, U.S. viewership was also down, much more sharply than in Canada, hitting an average audience of only 2.6 million. That represented a drop of about 43 per cent over last year, when the final aired on ABC and the ESPN+ streaming service. The decline was believed to be in large part because the series aired only on the cable channels TNT and TruTV, marking the first time since 1994 that the final didn’t air on a U.S. broadcast channel.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe