The opening round of the NHL’s 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw a pair of series sweeps and only one Game 7, but NBC Sports’ coverage still hit its best total-audience numbers in six years. And Wednesday night’s Game 7 of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs series was the most-watched first-round game ever on NBCSN.
Total audience delivery for the 42 first-round games across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, Golf Channel, USA Network, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app averaged 769,000 viewers. That’s the best average viewership since 2012 (936,000 viewers) and up 4% from last year (743,000) and up 8% vs. 2016 (714,000).
First-round coverage of six telecasts on NBC, which concluded during the weekend, averaged a TAD of 1.91 million viewers, the best since 2015 (1.92 million) and up 15% vs. 2017 . NBC averaged a 1.13 household rating, up 13% vs. last year (1.00). Sunday afternoon’s deciding Game 6 between Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers on NBC is the most-watched game of the playoffs to date, averaging a TAD of 2.38 million viewers.
The opening round ended Wednesday night with the Boston Bruins’ 7-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six battle that went the distance. That series’ TAD of 1.48 million viewers on NBCSN was up 4% vs. the Chicago-St. Louis Game 7 in 2016, which had been the most-watched first-round game in network history (1.42 million). Toronto-Boston peaked with a TV-only audience of 2.04 million viewers from 10-10:15 p.m. ET.
The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tonight with a doubleheader featuring Game 1 between the two-time defending champion Penguins and the Washington Capitals, followed by the opening game of the Vegas Golden Knights-San Jose Sharks matchup. Both of those teams are coming off opening-round sweeps against Southern California teams; Vegas crowned the Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose cooked the Anaheim Ducks.