Game three of the Stanley Cup Finals between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings drew just 1.7 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network. That is down 37% compared to last year, thanks in large part to the game being aired on the new NBC Sports Network. For comparison, game four of the Miami Heat-Boston Celtics series drew 11.0 million viewers and Cupcake Wars on the Food Network drew 1.4 million viewers.
That’s bad. But it is also too early to panic.
The NHL as well as NBC knew the ratings would be bad. But it has nothing to do with people not being able to find the game. Anybody that is looking for the Stanley Cup Finals is not going to give up just because they don’t know where NBCSN is on their TV guide.
The problem is that the NBCSN is not yet part of the surfing rotation for the casual sports fan just looking for live sports to watch. And this is what NBC and the NHL are trying to change.
Both the NHL and NBC need the NBCSN to succeed. And that will only happen by pushing premier live sporting events to the young network. And as long as NBC keeps pushing premier events to the NBCSN, eventually casual fans will start migrating that way and ratings will rise.
Unfortunately, events like this year’s Stanley Cup Finals will suffer in the meantime.
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