The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-2 Series win over the New York Rangers in the 2022 NHL Eastern Conference Finals averaged 2.38 million viewers on ESPN, a reasonably strong number heading into the team’s final Stanley Cup game with the Colorado Avalanche.
Five of the six games, all broadcasted via cable, drew more than two million viewers, and Game 3 on Sunday afternoon was the only game to score 1.96 million viewers. The series peaked with 2.837 million viewers in Saturday’s playoff at Game 6 in prime time.
ESPN’s series numbers overshadow Turner’s viewership rating for his avalanche sweep over the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals, which averaged 1.8 million viewers. This was the league’s best average viewer for a Western Conference Final since 2015.
There are no real companies until 2021 because of the “conference-free Stanley Cup semifinals” format we saw last year. But overall, this is the best-watched Eastern Conference Finals rating since at least 2016. Data is unclear between 2014 and 2016, and the average Bruins’ penguin viewership in 2013 was 2.9 million. Regardless of whether it’s the best viewership since 2013 or 2016, it’s still a pretty decent number to pair with a similarly impressive number for the Western Conference Finals (which included both a sweep *and* a Canadian team).
However, despite airing on ABC earlier this week, I think the Lightning-Avalanche Stanley Cup Final is over. That’s not because of the game, but rather because the final game leading up to the pandemic was a seven-game Barnburn game between the Blues and the Bruins that concluded with the most-watched NHL game in the United States. Viewership for the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup Finals was pretty poor, and it would really be amazing if the Tampa Bay-Colorado Series could surpass both. But it will take a lot of work for this series to surpass many of the series that occurred in the years prior to the pandemic (not to mention the Blues-Bruins series).