Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Nights delivered a 3.72 overnight rating, the highest for a Stanley Cup finals Game 1 since 2015, NBC announced Tuesday. Not surprisingly, Las Vegas and Washington led the way among local markets, with overnight ratings of 28.08 and 16.02, respectively.
D.C.’s 16.02 rating was the highest-rated Capitals game on an NBC network all-time, topping the 12.6 rating for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday. The 16.02 rating is also believed to be the highest in the D.C. market for any Capitals game. In 1998, the only previous time Washington appeared in the Stanley Cup finals, Game 1 on Fox earned a 13.7 rating locally. Excluding the Redskins, who regularly post local TV ratings of 20.0 and higher, the highest local rating for a game involving a D.C. team this century is believed to be Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series between the Nationals and Cardinals, which drew a 16.7.
In Sin City, Monday’s 28.02 rating shattered the previous record number for a Golden Knights game of 17.9, which was set during Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Winnipeg. One in every two TV sets that were in use in Las Vegas during Game 1 were tuned to the hockey game, the Review-Journal’s Steve Carp noted.
The third-highest local rating for Game 1 was in Pittsburgh (10.31), where Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cups and Capitals is a dirty word, except for those who are actually rooting for Alex Ovechkin to finally win a title.
NBC also announced that Game 1 was the most streamed NHL game ever in terms of unique devices, and that 10 NHL markets posted their highest local rating for a Game 1 on NBC in which their team wasn’t playing. Monday’s ratings are especially impressive given that Game 1 overlapped with Game 7 of the NBA’s Western Conference finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. Last year’s Stanley Cup finals opener didn’t go head-to-head with the NBA.
Monday’s local ratings also illustrate how D.C. has grown as a hockey town since 1998. Twenty years ago, the Detroit Free Press and a Fox spokesman both took shots at the Capitals’ fan base after Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals between the teams drew lackluster ratings:
The Stanley Cup finals game Tuesday night wasn’t boffo in the overnight Nielsen ratings, and you can blame it on the Red Wings’ opponents, the no-name Capitals. Nationally, the game drew a 3.3 rating and a 6 share. Fox blames the 18 percent decline from last year’s Detroit-Philadelphia opener on the no-name Caps.
“You always want the teams that have the most recognizable players to be in the finals,” spokesman Steve Grubbs said. “The NHL doesn’t have that this year.”
Of course the game was a hit in Hockeytown, scoring a 25.6 rating and a 35 share. And that was just for the Fox telecast on Channel 2. It doesn’t factor in viewers who watched “Hockey Night in Canada” on Windsor’s Channel 9.
No surprise; since Fox began broadcasting NHL games four years ago, the network said the Detroit market has generated its best ratings, followed by St. Louis, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Denver.
What about Washington? The game limped in with a 13.7 rating and a 21 share. Probably something good on C-SPAN.
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