Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals featured plenty of riveting drama and some amazing play by both teams. It was a great showcase for the sport.
For the NHL, it was a huge win in many ways. Moving forward, one of the significant wins for the league came in the television ratings the series got. Game 6 appears to be the most impressive, and could represent a big step in the right direction for a league that has struggled to win over viewers for a long time.
The overnight ratings are in. NBC's broadcast of the game, which ran from 8 p.m. ET until 11:30 (including around 20 minutes of postgame coverage), picked up a 5.7 rating and a 10 share.
For those unfamiliar with what the numbers mean, a rating is the percentage of all television households -- regardless of whether they're actually watching TV -- that were tuned in to the game. The share is a percentage of all households watching television at the time that are tuned in. In other words, of all homes in the country that were watching TV during the time NBC was on the air, an average of 10 percent of them had the hockey game on at any given time.
It's not an exact science, but it's how television habits have been measured in this country for years, and as Steve Lepore notes, the NHL's numbers have never been better.
This is perhaps the highest-rated game on record, and the first time I've ever seen a 10-share associated with an NHL game.
... Overall, the game was up 30% from last year's Game 6 (a 4.4/7). Overnights from Game 7 of last year's record-setting Penguins/Red Wings game are unavailable. Numbers are preliminary, but all indications from the metered markets are that this game will break that game's ratings, as the game drew a final rating of 4.2 and 7.9 million viewers, and the ratings for Devils/Mighty Ducks in '03 (4.6, 7.1 million viewers) to become the highest-rated hockey game since 1973.