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NHL Stanley Cup Broadcast Ratings Down 61%

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his year’s NHL Stanley Cup Final was the least-watched series since 2007, with an average of 2.15 million viewers across six matches on US network NBC, according to Sports Media Watch.

The viewership numbers are a 61% drop from 2019’s seven-game series, with the most-watched game of the series being the game six decider, with 2.88 million viewers tuning in to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning best the Dallas Stars.

Despite the series decider being the most-watched game of the series, the game was the lowest rated and least-watched series decider in at least two decades, according to Sports Business Journal.

In totality, the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged 953,000 viewers across NBC’s TV and digital platforms, marking a total 38% decrease compared to last year.

The drop in broadcast numbers has been explained due to the NHL having to compete with the NBA’s conference finals, the return of the NFL and college football, and continuing MLB games.

The game six decider was aired opposite a much-anticipated Monday Night Football NFL game on ESPN between the Chiefs and the Ravens, which drew 14 million viewers

The NHL was forced to suspend its season from March 12 until August 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the Stanley Cup playoffs were competing with every other US major sporting competition, which it has never had to do in previous years.

National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) executive director, Don Fehr, told The Associated Press the ‘bubble’ system the NHL used for the playoffs, playing behind closed doors in Edmonton and Toronto, can not be used for the 2020/21 season.

“Certainly not for a season, of course not,” Fehr said.

“Nobody is going to do that for four months or six months or something like that.

“Whether we could create some protected environments that people would be tested and they’d be clean when they came in and lasted for some substantially shorter period of time with people cycling in and out is one of the things I suspect we will examine,” he said.

All six games of the NHL final series dropped at least 50% in ratings and viewership in comparison to their respective games from the seven-game 2019 series.