NHL Goes Out with a Bang, Notches Highest Rating in 36 Years for Game 6 of Finals

The NHL put an exclamation point on one of the highest rated Stanley Cup Playoffs in recent memory, as Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on NBC drew the largest audience for an NHL game in 36 years. The Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on June 9 pulled in 8.28 million viewers and gave the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup since 1961, ending the NHL’s longest championship drought.

Game 6 was the most watched since 8.29 million people tuned into Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals, featuring the Flyers and the Boston Bruins. The audience for this year’s Blackhawks clincher was 43% higher than last year’s Game 6 (5.8 million viewers) and 4% higher than last year’s Game 7 (8.0 million viewers).

The matchup was also the highest rated NHL game in 36 years, posting a 4.7 household rating and 8 share compared to a 7.6/27 for the 1974 Finals. That number is up 38% from Game 6 in 2009 and up 9% from Game 7.

Overall, the four Finals games aired on NBC (Versus carried Games 3 and 4) averaged 6.1 million viewers, the best network-TV series average in 13 years (1997, 6.4 million, Detroit-Philadelphia, one game on Fox). The series’ average 3.4/6 rating/share is the best on network TV in eight years (2002, 3.6/7, Carolina-Detroit on ABC).

Games 3 and 4 of the series on Versus averaged 3.369 million viewers, making it the most-watch Final round on cable since 2002.

Locally, NBC posted a 32.8/50 in the Chicago area and a 26.8/38 in the Philadelphia area. The local Comcast Sportsnets in both markets also drew strong numbers for their pre and postgame coverage. CSN Chicago’s Blackhawks postgame show, which ran nearly three hours, averaged a 1.9 rating (66,500 households), while the Flyers postgame on CSN Philadelphia delivered a 1.4 (42,000 households).

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