According to Sports Media Watch, Monday night’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final (Lightning vs. Stars) averaged a 1.7 rating and 2.88 million viewers on NBC (2.95M including streaming), making it the highest rated and most-watched game of the series, but the lowest rated and least-watched Cup clincher in at least two decades.
In fact, it was likely the least watched Cup clincher in more than three decades.
NBC’s coverage of Game 6 of the Lightning-Stars drew 2.877 million viewers per @Ourand_SBJ. That’s the lowest Stanley Cup-clinching game since NBC took over the NHL in 2006 and likely the lowest in three+ decades including Fox and ABC (which dates back to 1995). Bad TV luck.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 29, 2020
It should be noted that Game 6 was up against possibly the biggest NFL matchup of the season so far (Baltimore-Kansas City).
NHL Ratings fell 54% and viewership 56% from last year’s non-clinching Blues-Bruins Game 6, which aired on a Sunday night and faced no notable competition. There was no Game 6 in 2018.
All told, the NHL playoffs averaged 916,000 viewers across NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC averaged 916,000 viewers across this year’s playoffs (82 games).
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) September 29, 2020
Game 5 on Saturday averaged a 1.5 and 2.71 million, down 53% and 50% respectively from last year (3.1, 5.45M). This year’s game aired opposite college football games and the NBA; last year’s game faced no such competition.
The full six-game Lightning-Stars series averaged a 1.2 and 2.15 million (including streaming), down 60% and 61% respectively from last year’s seven-game final (3.0, 5.47M) and the least-watched Cup Final since 2007 (Senators-Ducks: 1.80M). All six games of the series declined at least 50% in ratings and viewership.
The complete Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged a 0.54 and 953,000 across NBC’s TV and digital platforms, down 38% in ratings and viewership from last year (0.87, 1.53M) and the least-watched postseason in at least a decade. The postseason, which took place sans-fans four months later than scheduled, included a number of weekday afternoon starts and head-to-heads with pro and college football.
It should also be noted that the NHL Finals ratings were on an upward trend the previous four seasons before this year’s Final, which was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locally, Monday’s season finale averaged a 15.39 rating in Tampa-St. Petersburg — the market’s second-highest NHL rating on NBC. Game 1 of the 2015 final averaged a 17.93.
The last time the Lightning clinched the Cup Final — Game 7 of their 2004 matchup with Calgary — their win averaged a 28.1 on ABC.
Game 6 averaged a 7.28 rating in Dallas-Ft. Worth, that market’s highest NHL rating on NBC. The Stars’ previous Cup Final appearance in 2000 aired on ESPN/ABC.