Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final Moves to NBC With Belmont Lead-In

Posted by | May 31, 2014 at 2:48 PM

With the possibility of a Triple Crown promising big numbers for the Belmont Stakes, NBC has rescheduled Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final to take advantage of the lead-in.

Game 2 of the Rangers/Kings Stanley Cup Final will remain on Saturday, June 7, but will air at 7:30 PM ET on NBC instead of 8 PM on NBCSN [full schedule here]. The game will now air directly after NBC coverage of The Belmont Stakes, which features the possibility of a Triple Crown winner for the first time in six years.

Since NBC first began airing the race, The Belmont Stakes has averaged approximately 15.8 million viewers in years when the Triple Crown was at stake (2002-04, 2008). The peak audience was 21.9 million for Smarty Jones’ failed attempt in 2004.

NBC has not aired any sports programming after a Triple Crown race since losing NBA rights in 2002. In the most recent occurrence, Game 1 of the Lakers/Kings conference final drew a 6.3 rating and 9.2 million viewers — retaining nearly all of its Preakness lead-in (6.5, 9.2M). Of course, that may have had more to do with the Lakers’ appeal than anything else. Two weeks earlier, Game 1 of a Mavericks/Kings semifinal had a 4.4 and 6.5 million, barely half of what the Kentucky Derby pulled in (8.3, 12.8M). Even so, Game 1 still did better than Game 4 the following Saturday with no lead-in (3.8, 5.0M).

Game 2 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final drew 4.0 million viewers on NBCSN, and the last Game 2 to air on NBC (2011) earned 3.6 million. This year’s Game 2 figures to surpass those totals easily and surpass last year’s Game 5 (5.6M) as the most-watched Saturday night Stanley Cup Final game since Devils/Avalanche Game 7 in 2001 (6.9M).

(Sat. news from nbcumv.com, via twitter.com/max_vrany)

  • Nate Johnson

    Risky move right here by NBC if lets say the Kings win Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals… A 4 Pacific Time start on a Saturday in Los Angeles? That will be interesting to see if the Ratings will uphold well in that area and will the fans show great support at a much earlier time start! Nontheless its a Game 2 following a possible Triple Crown winner so its a Win-Win for NBC especially with the Rangers in the Stanley Cup, but I think the losers are the Los Angeles in that area if lets say the Kings win Game 7

    • Pablo

      The ratings will be poor in LA regardless. Did you see the weak numbers that the Kings-Ducks series pulled?

  • Sammy Makki

    I don’t get a 7 eastern start time for a Stanley Cup game. I mean these events shouldn’t ever start before 8. They could’ve still had it follow the race on NBC but just put a one hour pre game leading into the 8 start.

  • nsbombers

    My guess is game 2 would start at 8pm eastern time with the obligatory pregame show.