Seventh heaven for Stanley Cup on CBC and NBC
There's nothing like a seventh game to get hearts a-beating, the rhetoric flowing and ratings rising. Friday's seventh game of the Stanley Cup final, which went down to the wire, didn't disappoint anyone on either side of the border.
An average audience of 3.529 million watched on CBC, the highest ever for an all-American final. But not even that big number, almost 800,000 more than the number who watched the deciding Game 6 last year, could save CBC from a decrease.
Overall, the final averaged 2.154 million, down 7 per cent from last year.
On NBC, things couldn't have worked out any better. Friday's game was the most-watched NHL game in 36 years, which gives you an indication of which way hockey has been heading in the U.S.
It averaged 8 million viewers, 1.4 million fewer than the 9.4 million who watched a Montreal-Chicago Game 6 in 1973.
Overall, the series averaged 5.6 million viewers on NBC, the best since 2002.
So what can we take from all these mind-numbing numbers? For one, CBC couldn't attract as many viewers as it did for the same two teams last season. As for reasons, your guess is as good as mine or CBC's. There are some who believe many Canadians are opting to watch on NBC, which is a possibility, though there's absolutely no evidence to back that up.
Maybe Canadians just got tired of watching the same two teams. Or maybe they got tired of the way CBC turned every game into the Don Cherry Show.
Game seven and how does CBC start things? With some bizarre opening featuring Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," players' names in Gothic script and the Collar That Walks Like A Man, bedecked in some strange biker outfit, plucking a dead octopus out of the river. What this all meant is anyone's guess.
More amazingly, the CBC showed it again during Coach's Corner.
As for the American experience, it's all good news. Increased ratings and big numbers certainly can't hurt. Who knows, it may even get the NHL a rights fee some day.
Here are the top English-language weekend sports ratings, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research overnight figures:
1. Hockey, Penguins at Red Wings, Friday, CBC: 3,529,000*
2. Hockey, Hockey Night In Canada pre-game, Friday, CBC: 745,000
3. Auto racing, NASCAR Lifelock 400, Saturday, TSN: 294,0004.Baseball, Marlins at Blue Jays, Saturday, TSN: 294,000
5. Baseball, Marlins at Blue Jays, Friday, TSN: 273,000
6. Baseball, Marlins at Blue Jays, Sunday, Sportsnet: 186,000
7. Basketball, Lakers at Magic, Sunday, TSN: 183,000*
8. Equestrian, Spruce Meadows Grand Prix, Saturday, CBC: 71,000
9. Soccer, Confederations Cup, Sunday, CBC: 61,000
* Viewers on U.S. channels not calculated