The Boston Bruins' riot-spawning, 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night set several ratings records for NBC.
The game delivered a 5.7 rating and 10 percent household share, according Nielsen data, tying to 2003's Cup-ending game between the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and New Jersey Devils for the highest Game 7 overnight rating on record. (The Devils won that game 3-0.)
It was also a 14 percent jump over the most recent Stanley Cup Game 7--the Pittsburgh Penguins' win over the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.The 5.7 also tied for the second-best Stanley Cup overnight rating in 37 years. (Last year's Game 6 between Chicago and Philadelphia delivered a 5.8.)
It was also the highest overnight U.S. rating in the past 38 years for a Stanley Cup game featuring a Canadian team.
"That the 2011 Stanley Cup Final ended with such a ratings victory despite the presence of a Canadian team--whose local viewership doesn't factor into the ratings--is remarkable," Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski wrote on Puck Daddy.
In Boston, last night's game earned a whopping 43.4 rating and 64 percent share--the best overnight on record for a hockey game in Boston and best overnight rating in the Boston market featuring since Super Bowl XLII (55.6 when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in February 2008).
Meanwhile, for those who thought hockey was a fringe sport on television--think again. Boston's seven-game average for this year's Stanley Cup Final series--five games on NBC, two on Versus--was 28.1/44, or 12 percent higher than ABC's seven-game average for last year's NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers.
The impressive numbers validate the work done by NBC Sports' outgoing chief Dick Ebersol, who signed a new 10-year, $200 million deal with the NHL for rights to televise its games.
As part of the pact, Ebersol announced in April that NBC Universal would rebrand Versus, formerly the Outdoor Life Network, "within 90 days."
A spokesman for NBC Sports told The Cutline that despite Ebersol's exodus, "there is still a plan to rename Versus," and that it would happen "sooner rather than later."
(Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas hoists the Stanley Cup, June 15, 2011: Julie Jacobson/AP)