How are the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff ratings on NBC?

The 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs haven’t lacked for drama.

Some of that drama arrived in the form of Game 7 battles in five series. But some of that drama was also due to brevity: The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins being dispatched quickly by the Boston Bruins, and the Chicago Blackhawks doing the same against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

So how have these playoffs fared in the ratings for NBC and NBC Sports Network, as the Chicago Blackhawks prepare to face the Boston Bruins in the final round?

Thanks to the conference finals, the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs are the “second most-watched in 16 years” according to NBC, right behind last season’s tournament.

From NBC Universal:

Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, games airing on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC are averaging 1.074 million viewers, making the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs the second-most watched in 16 years (1997, FOX & ESPN, 1.237 million), behind only last year (NBC, NBC Sports Network & CNBC, 1.089 million).

NBC is averaging 2.422 million viewers per broadcast through the first three rounds, up 12% vs. last year (2.166 million), while NBC Sports Network is averaging 1.089 million, up 10 percent vs. 2012 (994,000).

On cable, NBC Sports Network and CNBC combined to average 903,000 viewers for the first three rounds, up four percent vs. last year (868,000) and the most-watched on cable since 2000 (931,000).

Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal notes the conference finals saved the NHL from some gloomy numbers in the early rounds: NBC Sports Network was down 39 percent after the quarterfinals.

One can understand why, as the East featured three Canadian teams -- remember, NBC doesn't get the benefit of Canadian viewership totals -- and the West featured some funky matchups (the Blackhawks and Wild in a five-game snoozer).

But the conference finals, brief as they were, produced the best ratings for the penultimate round of the NHL playoffs in 17 years and up 111-percent from last season. Which is what happens when you swap the Phoenix Coyotes for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Stanley Cup Final should be produce monster ratings for the NHL, and a significant rebound after the numbers dropped for the Kings vs. the New Jersey Devils.