Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Despite the absence of teams that have dominated the Conference Finals over the last several seasons (Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks to name a few), the NHL’s postseason ratings are up substantially from last season. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Chris Laroche takes a look at how they compare to previous seasons.
NBC Sports Network announced earlier this week that the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning reached a total viewership rating of of 1.1, or roughly 1.9 million people. This is a massive spike from last season’s finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators by an impressive 11%. It is also up 13% from the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, which saw the Penguins clash with the Lightning. The entirety of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs is currently averaging 1.11 million viewers across all the networks it’s aired on.
Out west, the Conference Final has seen two franchises play in their first Conference Final, both hungry for the Clarence S. Campbell Trophy. This series between the Winnipeg Jets and the Las Vegas Golden Knights is currently averaging 1.84 million viewers, which is up an astonishing 70% from last season’s Western Finals between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators. Taking into consideration those who streamed the first few games, the series has totaled about 2.37 million viewers.
It would appear as though fairytale reality has caught the interest of many people outside of the fanbases of the four teams remaining in the Cup hunt. Washington’s storied rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins is always a hot topic across the NHL, but when the Capitals finally managed to beat their formidable adversaries, people wanted to tune in to see just how far they could go. The beating Tampa Bay on home ice in the first two games of the Eastern Finals has only furthered peoples’ interest in the exciting series.
Meanwhile, the real Cinderella story this year is the unparalleled success of the Vegas Golden Knights, who are in their inaugural season. They racked up accolade after accolade for an expansion team during the regular season, including most wins on home ice, most wins, and most points for a team in their first year. They are also currently the only team in NHL history to never lose a playoff series, and are the first expansion team to make it to a Conference Final showdown. But the impressive success in the Western Finals isn’t one-sided.
Coming out of the first round of the playoffs a few weeks ago, this is the first time the Winnipeg Jets have won a playoff series. They have gone on to become a serious threat this postseason, especially on home ice.
Both series are currently 2-1, favoring the Capitals and the Golden Knights respectively. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how the TV viewership ratings flucuate as the series continue. Expect high ratings for the Stanley Cup Finals, with these four teams and their passionate fanbases growing ever hungrier for their moment in history. Three of the four teams remaining in the Cup hunt have never hoisted Lord Stanely’s chalice before.
The teams are ready, the viewers are ready, and the numbers are through the roof. All eyes are on the Capitals, and the Capitals will look to make believers out of everyone who tunes in.
By: Chris Laroche