Stanley Cup Ratings Dip as Viewership of European Soccer Soars

Game 5 of the Final averaged 2.72 million viewers while the Champions League finale averaged 2.18 million

Members of the Vegas Golden Knights pose with the Stanley Cup.
America wasn't interested in the Vegas Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup.
Bruce Bennett/Getty

The Golden Knights claiming victory over the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final may have helped cement Las Vegas as a legitimate sports town, but the title win didn’t help the NHL with its viewership issues as the league’s championship round ended with its smallest Game 5 audience in nearly three decades, according to Sports Media Watch.

With viewership of the NHL postseason down 10% from last year with an average of 1.23 million viewers tuning in to watch playoff hockey, overall the final game of the Stanley Cup Final fell off of a cliff compared to years past, as Game 5 between the Panther and Knights averaged just 2.72 million viewers. Per SPW, that’s the lowest number for a Game 5 of the Cup Final since Canucks-Rangers on ESPN in 1994 (2.41 million).

Overall viewership of the Stanley Cup Final, which aired on TNT, was down 43% compared to last year when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games in a series that aired on ABC. Last season’s Stanley Cup Final averaged 4.6 million viewers, up 84% versus 2021’s Stanley Cup Final average. 

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Those year-over-year numbers should be concerning for members of the NHL league office as viewership on Paramount+ of Manchester City’s win over Inter Milan in Istanbul in the Champions League finale was watched by an average audience of 2.18 million viewers. Even more concerning, that’s actually a significant dropoff from the 2.76 million CBS viewers who watched Real Madrid’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool last year.

Taking place at relatively the same time, the NBA Finals blew the Stanley Cup and Champions League out of the water as the Denver Nuggets’ series-clinching win over the Miami Heat in Game 5 averaged 13.08 million viewers. Overall, the NBA playoffs were a huge hit as coverage of all four rounds across ABC, ESPN and TNT averaged 5.47 million viewers, a five-year high, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Considering Denver (14th) and Miami (16th) aren’t major media markets, those numbers are a big score for the NBA and showcases how much more popular it is than the NHL…and the Champions League — for now.

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