Ratings Predictions For a Rematch
May 29, 2009 10 Comments
This is likely one of the most difficult Stanley Cup Finals to predict ratings-wise since the lockout at least. On one hand, the NHL is putting Games 1 & 2 of the Finals on network TV for the first time in decades (While Game 1 has aired on National TV, Game 2 hasn’t in ages) while Games 3 & 4 are on cable. However, the NHL is seeing record ratings over at VERSUS, and its’ most successful post-season since 1997, ratings-wise.
The NHL has as made-for-TV a matchup as you can get, featuring two teams that drew the highest average ratings for a Stanley Cup Final since 2002, and who’s Game 6 last year drew the highest single-game NHL rating since 2003. However, the NHL has been squeezed into a somewhat unfavorable schedule with its’ network partner NBC, which has Game 1 airing on the low-rated Saturday and Game 7 airing on the slightly-less low-rated Friday.
We’re going to ignore the NBA stuff, because it’s pretty clear that the fanbases don’t overlap much. Wings-Hawks drew 2.3 million on VERSUS Wednesday while Game 5 of the Lakers-Nuggets series drew 9.9 million on ESPN. The NHL is going to draw what it is going to draw, and the NBA isn’t really a factor into that equation. However, a Magic-Nuggets Final would be really helpful for the league, buzz-wise.
So with that all said, let’s go game by game and predict what the ratings will be for the Stanley Cup Finals
Game 1, Saturday May 30th at 8 PM ET (NBC)
Competition: Reality reruns and a new episode of Pushing Daisies on ABC, reruns and a new Harper’s Island on CBS, and FOX’s Cops/America’s Most Wanted duo, in addition to Game 6 of Magic/Cavs on TNT.
The Story: Saturdays are typically the lowest-rated nights of any Stanley Cup Finals, regardless of what sequence the games are in. For example, Game 3 of last year’s series went from 4.5 Million viewers on a Wednesday to 4.3 million on a Saturday for Game 4, which makes no sense unless you consider that Saturday is the lowest-rated night on network TV. For that reason, this will be the lowest-rated game of the series on NBC.
The Number: 3.8 Million Viewers.
Game 2, Sunday May 31st at 7PM ET or 8PM ET (NBC)
The Competition: Game 7 of Nuggets/Lakers or reruns on ABC, 60 Minutes, Password and reruns on CBS, and repeats of animated sitcoms on FOX.
The Story: While we do agree that the NBA and NHL have separate audiences, having no Game 7 of Nuggets/Lakers to deal with would be huge for the league, because it would likely take a lot of sports fans who were looking forward to having a game to watch Sunday night. It’ll do much better than Game 1 either way, but I’ll list two ratings.
The Number: 4.4 Million at 7PM ET, 5 Million at 8PM ET.
Game 3, Tuesday June 2nd at 8 PM ET (VERSUS)
The Competition: None from the NBA, while ABC airs Abortion to Jim (zing) and specials, CBS has reruns, FOX has reruns of House and a new Mental.
The Story: Look, we all know VERSUS isn’t going to draw as big a number as broadcast. Some people will laugh at it. But, as Sam Flood said, there’s no reason for VERSUS not to draw record numbers for these two games.
The Number: 2.8 Million Viewers.
Game 4, Thursday June 4th at 8PM ET (VERSUS)
The Competition: Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC, all reruns on CBS, new So You Think You Can Dance on FOX.
The Story: This is where the point we made about the NBA and NHL not sharing audiences comes into play. When it deals with VERSUS, the NHL is pretty much it’s own separate entity, and will have to count on it’s own fans showing up to watch. That said, we’re gonna be bold and predict VERSUS tops 3 Million for Game 4.
The Ratings: 3.2 Million Viewers.
Game 5, Saturday June 6th at 8PM ET (NBC)
The Competition: Nothing from the NBA, while it’ll just be repeats and burn-offs on other networks.
The Story: Again, the NHL hurts itself by airing another game on Saturday. It’ll likely go higher than Game 1’s numbers, but it won’t top Game 2.
The Number: 4.3 Million Viewers.
Game 6, Tuesday June 8th at 8PM ET (NBC)
The Competition: Game 3 of the NBA Finals on ABC.
The Story: Okay, here’s the biggest NHL mess-up of the scheduling in this series. NBC has had it’s Conan debut week, can we please air this game on freakin’ Monday? This was a bit of a bumbler. That said, Game 6 will draw the best numbers of the series.
The Numbers: 5.2 Million Viewers.
Game 7, Friday June 11th at 8PM ET (NBC)
The Competition: Reruns.
The Story: Everyone loves a Game 7. The game would likely draw a 50 rating in Pittsburgh and a 40 rating in Detroit. It will draw casual fans. It will be the biggest NHL game of the decade ratings wise, despite being on a Friday. It will be on NBC an it’ll own much of the sports bar coverage. This could be a massive breakthrough for the league.
The Number: 8.0 Million Viewers.
Overall, the NHL is looking at an average a 4.6 Million Viewers for this final. Not likely the breakthrough increase they wanted, but what they deserve for the insanity of their scheduling.