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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Stanley Cup Game 7: Most-Watched NHL Game in U.S. in Five Years

  • Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is the most-watched NHL game in the U.S. in five years.
  • Canada’s Sportsnet also posts its largest audience for the Panthers’ series-clinching win.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Big drama in the Stanley Cup Final translated to historic television audiences for the NHL. 

ESPN said that it averaged 7.7 million viewers on ABC for Game 7 on Monday night between the Panthers and Oilers, representing the league’s most-watched game on any network since a record-setting draw of 8.7 million five years ago on NBC for the deciding seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final between the Blues and Bruins. It was also the most-viewed NHL game on record to not involve an Original Six franchise. 

Won by Florida for its first title in franchise history, the entire seven-game Final this year averaged 4.2 million per game, a 58% boost from last year’s five-game tilt between the Golden Knights and Panthers. There is a marked difference between the two years, however, as the Panthers-Oilers games included broadcast distribution on ABC, while last year featured cable-only coverage on TNT and TBS.

Compared to two years ago—a six-game win by the Avalanche over the Lightning also aired on Disney platforms including ABC—the 2024 Stanley Cup Final trailed by 9%. 

For the entire four rounds of this year’s NHL playoffs, Disney said it recorded a 60% audience increase from a year ago, when it did not have the Stanley Cup Final, and a 14% boost compared to two years ago.  

Canada’s Sportsnet, meanwhile, generated an average of 7.55 million viewers for Game 7 of the Oilers-Panthers series, representing the network’s most-watched broadcast in its 26-year history. The network’s broader reach number for the game was 15 million—a figure that is 39% of the entire country’s population. 

Topping Off

The strong numbers for this year’s championship round concluded a banner season for the NHL that included record attendance and revenue, a series of other ratings increases, and a new arena renovation deal in Washington. 

Monday’s on-ice dramatics, however, were marred somewhat by the emerging news that Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo is abandoning his efforts to revive the dormant franchise. But the NHL will now look to take its postseason momentum into this weekend’s draft, which will be held at the Sphere in Las Vegas. 

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