The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers in the 2022 NHL Eastern Conference Finals averaged 2.38 million viewers on ESPN, a reasonably high number before the The team’s final Stanley Cup game with the Colorado Avalanche.
Five of the six games, all shown on cable, drew more than two million viewers, with Game 3 on Sunday afternoon being the only outlier with 1.96 million. The series peaked with 2.837 million viewers for Saturday 6’s primetime showdown.
ESPN’s series numbers eclipse Turner’s viewership for the Avalanche’s sweep over the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals, which averaged 1.8 million viewers. It was the league’s best average viewership for a Western Conference Finals since 2015.
There is no real competition until 2021 due to the non-conference “Stanley Cup Semi-Finals” formatting we saw last year. But overall, it’s the best average audience for the Eastern Conference Finals since at least 2016. Data is fuzzy between 2014 and 2016, and the Bruins’ 2013 sweep of the Penguins drew in average 2.9 million viewers. Regardless of whether this is the best viewership since 2013 or 2016, it’s still a pretty decent number to pair with an equally impressive number for the Western Conference Finals (which involved both a sweep * and * a Canadian team).
However, despite airing on ABC starting this week, I think the Lightning-Avalanche Stanley Cup Final has its work cut out for it. It’s not because of the game, but rather because the pre-pandemic final was a seven-game clash between the Blues and Bruins that ended in the most-watched NHL game on record in the States. -United. Viewership numbers for the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup Finals games have been shockingly poor, and it would be a real stunner if the Tampa Bay-Colorado series couldn’t top both. But it will take a lot of work for this series to top many of the series that ran in the years before the pandemic (not to mention the Blues-Bruins series).