With as good a ratings recipe as the NHL could have hoped — big market Original Six teams in a overtime Game 7 — Wednesday’s series finale between the Red Wings and Blackhawks delivered for NBC Sports Network.
Game 7 of the Red Wings/Blackhawks second round Stanley Cup playoff series drew a 2.1 U.S. rating and just under 3.4 million viewers on NBC Sports Network Wednesday night, the highest rated and third-most viewed NHL telecast ever on the network.
The only games to draw more viewers on NBCSN were Game 3 of the Flyers/Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final in 2010 (3.6M) and Game 4 of the Red Wings/Penguins final in 2009 (3.4M).
The numbers are not just impressive for NBC Sports Network. Excluding the Stanley Cup Final, Red Wings/Blackhawks Game 7 ranks as the highest rated NHL playoff game on any cable network since 2002, when Game 6 of the Red Wings/Avalanche Western Conference Finals drew a slightly higher rating on ESPN (2.09 to 2.07).
Obviously, Wednesday’s game ranks as the most-viewed second round Stanley Cup playoff telecast ever on NBC Sports Network. The previous high was 2.7 million for Game 6 of the series on Monday. Five of the seven most-viewed second round games ever on NBCSN took place this season, with the Blackhawks/Red Wings and Bruins/Rangers series accounting for all five.
Locally, Game 7 drew a 17.21 rating in Chicago — the market’s highest ever for any NHL telecast on NBC Sports Network, including Games 3 and 4 of the 2010 Blackhawks/Flyers Stanley Cup Final. The game drew a 14.96 rating in Detroit.
The other Game 7 did not perform nearly as well. Tuesday’s Sharks/Kings Game 7 drew 1.4 million viewers on NBC Sports Network — nearly two million fewer viewers than the Red Wings/Blackhawks game, but still the most-viewed Western Conference second round game in 12 years that did not involve either of those teams.
Sharks/Kings Game 7 drew a 2.65 rating in Los Angeles, the market’s best ever for a second round game on NBCSN, and a 4.48 in the Bay Area.