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Stanley Cup Final opener draws largest ratings in 21 years

Updated June 6, 2023 - 6:47 pm

The opening of the Stanley Cup Final was terrific for the Golden Knights. It was great for Warner Bros. Discover Sports, too.

Ratings for Saturday’s Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena were the highest for a Stanley Cup Final in 21 years, according to industry figures.

The viewership stats were the second-most watched Stanley Cup Final Game 1 ever on cable, to the Hurricanes-Red Wings opener in 2002.

A total of 2.8 million viewers to Warner Bros. Discover’s TNT, TBS and truTV watched the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory. The viewership peaked at 3.3 million from 7:45 to 8 p.m., as the game was knotted 2-2 in the third period.

The ratings were 11 percent higher than the five-year average from 2017-22. Game 1 opened with a pregame show of Marshmello performing at Toshiba Square at T-Mobile Arena, and included coverage of the Golden Knights’ in-arena spectacle opening the series.

This years’s Stanley Cup Final is the first of the four major American sports’ (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) championships played totally on cable since ESPN had the Stanley Cup rights in 1994. Last year the series was broadcast on ABC and ESPN.

To cover the Final’s history on cable, the series was telecast on NBC and NBC Sports Network from 2006-2021 (including 2007-2010 on Versus and 2006 on OLN, both of which eventually became known as NBCSN).

Largely because it is showcased on cable, thousands of viewers in Las Vegas and millions across the country are unable to watch the Stanley Cup Final on traditional network TV. That is a factor in comparative viewership numbers, as the total viewing audience for the Final is significantly than for the first two games of the NBA Finals on ABC.

The series opener between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat, played Thursday in Denver and won comfortably by the Nuggets 104-93, averaged 11.58 million viewers across ABC (11.04 million) and ESPN2 (544,000). Sunday’s Game 2, a suspenseful 111-108 Heat victory, drew 11.91 million viewers.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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