Ratings Roundup: 2018 NHL Stanley Cup and NBA Finals Take Center Stage

Ratings roundup is a rundown of ratings news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, NBC has continued coverage of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final, the 2018 NBA Finals breaks a 17-year-old record, the YES Network piles on their early success in May, Univision tops notable networks this past Saturday, and MLB Network broadcasts the most-watched MLB Draft in the channel’s history.

NBC Still Gaining Viewers in One-Sided Stanley Cup Final
Despite Monday night’s Game 4 blowout, in which the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., the 2018 Stanley Cup Final is averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 4.443 million viewers through the first four games across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app — making it the most-watched Final in three years.

Capitals-Golden Knights is up 5% vs. last year’s Nashville-Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Final (4.232 million), and up 30% vs. the first four games of the 2016 SCF between San Jose and Pittsburgh (3.414 million).

Through 82 games, the entire 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs are averaging a TAD of 1.374 million viewers across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, Golf Channel, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, and continue to be the most-watched NHL post-season in 21 years.

Monday night’s Game 4 — which featured the Capitals leading the Golden Knights 3-0 after the first period and 4-0 after the second — averaged a TAD of 5.161 million viewers. TV-only viewership on NBC peaked at 5.426 million viewers from 9:30-9:45 p.m. ET. Digitally, the game delivered 274,000 uniques, up +26% vs. last year’s Game 4; 17.4 million live minutes, up +8%; and an Average Minute Audience of 100,200 viewers, up +22%.

Washington, D.C., delivered a 22.9 local rating, the highest-rated Capitals game ever on the networks of NBC in the market, topping last Monday’s Stanley Cup Final Game 1 (16.0). For the first time this series, Washington, D.C., led all markets in viewership. Las Vegas’ 20.5 local rating stands as its second-highest for a Golden Knights game ever in the market, behind only last week’s Game 1 (28.1).

Game 3 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals on Saturday night had a TAD of 3.576 million viewers was up 18% vs. last year’s Pittsburgh-Nashville Game 3 (3.033 million) on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, and up 25% vs. the comparable 2016 game (Pittsburgh-San Jose, 2.859 million). TV-only viewership peaked at 4.154 million viewers between 10:45-11 p.m. ET.

Digitally, Game 3 is the second-most streamed NHL game in history — behind only last Wednesday’s Game 2. Game 3 delivered 322,000 uniques (+20% vs. 2017) and 25.3 million live minutes (+54%). The Average Minute Audience of 137,000 viewers was up 71%. Game 2 produced NHL streaming records of 366,000 uniques, 27.0 million live minutes, and an AMA of 140,000 viewers.

Game 3 concluded NBC Sports’ cable coverage of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which produced a TAD of 1.054 million viewers (66 games) across NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, Golf Channel, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, making it the second-best cable delivery in 21 years, behind only 2014 (1.098 million).

ABC’s Numbers Through Game 3 of the NBA Finals
ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV – the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-103 on Sunday – generated the third-largest Game 2 audience since 2001. The broadcast averaged 18,496,000 viewers and peaked with 22,497,000 viewers from 10:15-10:30 p.m. ET.

Sunday night’s audience was up 27 % from ABC’s historical Game 2 viewership average of 14,538,000 viewers. It was also up 7% from this year’s Game 1 audience, which drew 17,354,000 viewers last Thursday night.

ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals won the night across all of television for the 62nd consecutive time.

YES Network’s Continued Rise in May
YES Network averaged a 4.17 TV Household rating for its May 2018 Yankees games — a 12% increase from the ratings for its 2018 Yankees games prior to May 1 (3.71). A 4.17 average TV Household rating for May 2018 games is also 13% better than its ratings for its May 2017 games (3.70). Heading into June, the network is off to its best start through May 31 since 2012. Through May 31, 2018, YES had 1 Yankees game which averaged at least a 6.0 rating; three which averaged between a 5.0 and 5.9 rating, and another 15 games which averaged between a 4.0 and a 4.9 rating. Last year, YES had no games during the entire season which registered at least a 6.0, had only two games the entire season which generated a 5.0 or better (the first of which was not until July 31), and 8 games through May 31 which averaged between 4.0 and 4.9.

YES’ studio shows are having their best deliveries in several years: Yankees Batting Practice Today (highest-rated ever since its launch in 2006), Pre-Game Show (highest-rated since 2009), Post-Game Show (highest-rated since 2010) and Extra Innings Post-Game Show (highest-rated ever since its launch in 2010).

Univision Grabs Top Spot on June 2
On Saturday night, Univision’s special live coverage of the Selección Mexicana soccer match between Mexico and Scotland drew in 1.8 million Total Viewers 2+, 876,000 Adults 18-49 and 356,000 Adults 18-34 while also propelled it to the No. 1 broadcast network ranking for the entire night — ahead of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and Telemundo among both Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34. Not only did the sports event double the network’s audience levels during the 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. time slot from the comparable Saturday last year but it was also the top-rated program on all of broadcast television on Saturday night with both Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34.

Record Crowd Watches MLB Draft on MLB Network
MLB Network saw the MLB Draft rank as the most-watched Draft telecast ever on the channel averaging 320,000 viewers on Monday night for a rise of 21% over last year. Meanwhile, the network reports that  — through the start of the 2018 MLB regular season to date — viewership for MLB Network’s game telecasts are up 7% over 2017, including a 17% viewership increase for MLB Network Showcase games specifically.