HOLLYWOOD — There’s nothing quite like a Game 7 in sports to bring out the viewers.
What had been a disappointing Stanley Cup Finals for ABC ratings-wise ended Monday with the deciding seventh game of the series drawing the largest U.S. audience for a hockey game in at least 16 years.
According to Nielsen, the New Jersey Devils’ 3-0 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks averaged 7.17 million viewers and a 3.4/10 in adults 18-49 — the demo score more than doubling the weak 1.5 rating the net got for Game 6 Saturday.
These are the best ratings for the NHL, whose finals were largely carried on cable until recent years, since such records were first kept in 1987. The previous record was held by Game 7 of the 2001 Cup (3.2 rating in adults 18-49, 6.94 million viewers overall).
Game netted a 10.1/15 in New York and a 10.0/18 in Los Angeles (believed to be the highest hockey rating ever in the city).
Despite the strong finish, this year’s Cup Finals could not avoid becoming the lowest-rated since ABC began carrying them in 2000. The net’s five-game averages were 2.0/7 in adults 18-49 (down 23% year-to-year) and 4.4 million viewers overall (down 24%).
The Alphabet placed third in 18-49 Monday, but won the night in male demos, including 18-49 (4.5/14) and 18-34 (4.4/15).
NBC did well with a special “Dateline” interview with the parents of Laci Peterson, which edged out a repeat of CBS drama “CSI: Miami” to win the 10 o’clock hour in adults 18-49 (4.8/12). From 9 to 10, net’s reality skein “For Love or Money” ran second in 18-49 (4.2/11).
CBS won the night in key demos and total viewers with repeats of its strong lineup, while Fox did OK with two-hour spec “Test the Nation” (3.2/9 in A18-49, 7.31m).