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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Stanley Cup Final Game 1 Is Cable’s Most-Watched Since 2002

  • TNT’s Game 1 broadcast, simulcasted on TBS and truTV, averaged 2.8 million viewers on Saturday.
  • This is the NHL's first Stanley Cup Final since 1994 to be aired exclusively by a cable network.
This is the first Stanley Cup Final since 1994 to air exclusively on cable.
Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final averaged 2.8 million viewers across TNT, TBS, and truTV—making it the most-watched Stanley Cup Final opening game on cable in 21 years.

Parent company Warner Bros. Discovery Sports says average viewership for Saturday’s Game 1 between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights was up 11% over the past five-year average for Stanley Cup Final broadcasts from 2017 to 2021. The Golden Knights won Game 1, 5-2, and have a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 on Thursday. 

Game 1 on Saturday night peaked at 3.3 million total viewers, and it was the second-most watched Stanley Cup Final Game 1 ever recorded on cable television behind the 2002 edition between the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings.

This year marks Warner Bros. Discovery’s (formerly Turner Sports) first year airing the Stanley Cup Final as part of its $225 million annual broadcast deal signed with the NHL in 2021. ABC aired the Finals last year.

TNT is the first American cable channel to exclusively show a major sports championship since 1994 when ESPN did so for the NHL.

The Stanley Cup Final on TNT is not as big of a draw as the network’s NBA playoff broadcasts, which averaged 4.7 million viewers this postseason, continuing with the NBA Finals on ABC and ESPN. Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals on TNT had 11.9 million average viewers.

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