Ratings: Stanley Cup, NBA, MLB and more

Ratings roundup — Stanley Cup playoff viewership is now ahead of last year; the latest NBA playoff numbers; MLB hearings on ESPN and NBC; and more.

Stanley Cup viewership jumps ahead of last year’s pace entering Game 7s

Through Thursday, the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged 668,000 viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, TNT and TBS (43 games) — up 9% from the same number of games last year, despite zero games airing on broadcast television. Viewership had been trending slightly below last year through the first week of play. This year’s audience is also up 8% from last year’s full first round average, and that is before adding in five Game 7s this weekend.

Wednesday’s Penguins-Rangers Game 5 delivered the second-largest audience of the playoffs with 1.05 million viewers on ESPN, up 61% from last year.

Warriors continues to lead NBA second round viewership

Last Monday’s Grizzlies-Warriors second round NBA playoff Game 4 averaged 5.27 million viewers on TNT, trailing only Game 2 a week earlier (5.32M) as the most-watched game of the postseason on cable. Game 5, which saw Memphis lead by as much as 55 points, averaged a series-low 4.82 million. Both games surged double-digits over last year’s equivalent Clippers-Jazz games (3.35M*; 3.89M*) but were no match for Warriors-Rockets in the same windows three years ago, Golden State’s previous second round series (6.97M; 6.86 M).

In other action, Celtics-Bucks scored a Game 4 audience of 5.03 million and a Game 5 audience of 4.79 million — up double-digits from last year’s equivalent Sixers-Hawks games (3.90M*; 3.88M*). Compared to the same Celtics-Bucks matchup in ’19, Game 4 jumped 35% (from 3.72M) but Game 5 slipped 2% (from 4.87M).

Suns-Mavericks scored 4.15 million for Game 5 on TNT Tuesday and 4.53 million for Game 6 on ESPN thursday, both up double-digits from Blazers-Nuggets in ’19 (3.43M; 4.02M). There were no equivalent windows last year. Heat-Sixers led-in with 3.78 million on Tuesday and 3.74 million on Thursday, both down double-digigts from Bucks-Nets last year (4.58M*; 4.45M*). Compared to Sixers-Raptors in ’19, Game 5 increased slightly (vs. 3.75M) but Game 6 sank 16% (from 4.48M).

Sunday Night Baseball viewership up slightly; NBC’s MLB return not bad

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball is averaging 1.73 million viewers so far this season, up 4% from the same period last year. Last weekend’s Dodgers-Cubs game averaged a 0.9 rating and 1.78 million (+2%). Earlier in the day, NBC averaged a 0.75 and 1.30 million for White Sox-Red Sox (1.34 million including additional streaming viewership not tracked by Nielsen) — MLB’s largest regular season Sunday afternoon audience in three years. NBC’s first MLB window since 2000 was a simulcast of the new MLB Sunday Leadoff package on Peacock. All future games in the package will be exclusive to Peacock.

In other action, FS1 scored a 0.20 and 343,000 for Tigers-Astros and a 0.16 and 275,000 for Cardinals-Giants last Saturday; figures for Tuesday’s Red Sox-Braves game on TBS were too low to make the publicly available ratings charts on ShowBuzz Daily.

More: NASCAR, UEFA, PGA Tour, WNBA

Last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race from Darlington averaged a 1.45 and 2.61 million on FS1, down double-digits from last year (1.7, 3.09M*). The race aired directly opposite the F1 Miami Grand Prix on ABC, which had a 1.3 and 2.58 million. … The May 4 Real Madrid-Manchester City UEFA Champions League semifinal averaged 1.28 million viewers on Univision, the largest audience ever for a UEFA semifinal on a single network. Coverage of the same match drew 1.11 million on CBS, a record for a UEFA semifinal on an English-language network. … PGA Tour coverage at Quail Hollow averaged a 1.0 and 1.52 million on CBS last Saturday and a 1.5 and 2.53 million last Sunday, both down double-digits from last year (1.3, 2.04M*; 1.8, 3.05M*). … ESPN’s WNBA opener, Sun-Liberty last Saturday evening, averaged a 0.19 and 337,000. The first ESPN-branded WNBA games last season aired on broadcast network ABC and averaged more than 600,000.

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