Steve Lepore of Eye on the Media points out something rather startling regarding the ratings for the 2008 Stanley Cup finals in the U.S.: That the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings picked up over 5 million viewers between Game 1 on Versus and Game 6 on NBC. Overnight ratings from last night's game were a 4.4 and a 7 share for NBC from 8-11 p.m., good for a preliminary viewership figure of 7.02 million according to Sports Media Watch. The game drew a 3.0/9 among adults 18-49, ranking second for the night behind Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance?" (Clearly, we have to find a way to incorporate Ned Braden or Eric Nystrom into the finals to capture the dancing demo.)
Sports Media Watch writes that if the 7.02 million figure holds -- and keep in mind that number doesn't currently factor in either Cincinnati or D.C., which was hit with nasty weather last night -- Game 6 will be the most-watched NHL telecast in the U.S. since Game 7 of the Ducks/Devils series (7.2 million) in 2003. Which was the last all-U.S. Stanley Cup final. Which should tell you all you need to know about the alleged ratings "slump" for the Stanley Cup finals on American television since then.
See what happens when you have two legit teams, marketed well to the casual sports fan and presented professionally by a couple of networks that seem to give a damn? Live and learn, NHL.
UPDATE (7:00 p.m.) -- Sports Media Watch has the adjusted numbers down to 6.8 million. Still strong.