Despite the potential for a Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup victory, Game 4 of the Final between L.A. and the New Jersey Devils saw another ratings decline from last season for NBC Sports Network.
The New Jersey Devils Game 4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings drew 2.06 million viewers on NBC Sports Network. That's a 24% drop from Game 4 last year, which saw 2.71 million viewer check out the Bruins and Canucks. It is, however, solid growth of 16% from Game 3 (1.74 million). The game will go down as the most-watched on NBC Sports Network this season.
The game drew a 6.6 in Los Angeles, by far a series high (previously, it was a 5.5 for Game 2). NBC Sports Network was #1 in the L.A. market during that time period. Ratings continued to fall in New York, dropping from a 3.0 in Game 3 to a 2.9 in Game 4. The New York market has lost nearly half of the audience that made up the 5.1 rating in the market for Game 4.
Game 3 of the Final on Monday night drew 1.743 million viewers, "down 37% from Canucks/Bruins Game 3 last year (2.757M), and down 52% from Blackhawks/Flyers Game 3 in 2010 (3.600M)" according to Sports Media Watch.
Thus ends the NBC Sports Network portion of the schedule.
After the action shifted to cable for Game 3, we've been asked a dozen times why the full series between the Devils and Kings wasn't on NBC.
Splitting the series between cable and broadcast has been a longstanding tradition for the NHL. The Final's first two games used to start on cable — either ESPN or OLN/VERSUS — before moving to broadcast (ABC before the lockout; then NBC). In 2009, the decision was made to give VERSUS Games 3 and 4 of the Cup Final, as a way to reward the cable side with a ratings boost that would juice their overall numbers for the postseason.
It's not an ideal situation, to ping-pong the series between the two networks. But it does give the series a grand opening on network television and then brings it back for the most pivotal games later. So the Devils and Kings head back to NBC for Game 5, with the Devils at least having a heartbeat.
We'll discuss this more on Friday, but what do you think is at fault for the low Stanley Cup Final ratings this season?