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NBC’s Stanley Cup Finals, Fox’s ‘MasterChef’ Top Wednesday

Boston-Chicago matchup delivers hockey's best overnight rating for Game 1 in a series since '97

UPDATE: In nationals released Thursday afternoon, the game averaged a 2.5 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 6.36 million viewers overall, putting it just a smidge behind the 1997 opener between Detroit and Philadelphia (6.37 million) as the second most-watched Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 since at least 1987. Viewership of the game, which didn’t conclude until after 1 a.m. in the East, peaked in the 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET quarter hour with 7.44 million. NBC won the night in all male demos.

The NHL Stanley Cup Finals are off to a great start for NBC, with Wednesday’s Game 1 between Boston and Chicago — which went into triple overtime — delivering the best opening-night hockey numbers in 16 years. Fox’s “MasterChef” remained the night’s top-rated entertainment series.

Preliminary estimates from Nielsen are always sketchy for live sporting events, and the length of last night’s hockey game (it didn’t end until about 1:05 a.m. ET) only adds to the murkiness. NBC’s stations averaged a 2.4/7 in 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m. — more than double the 1.0/3 for last year’s Game 1 between Los Angeles and New Jersey.

In households, Wednesday’s 4.4 overnight rating is the best since Game 1 of the 1997 series between Detroit and Philadelphia on Fox. The game did a 25.1 rating in Chicago and a 28.1 in Boston — with each market up vs. their team’s most recent Finals appearance (Boston in 2011 and Chicago in 2010).

Univision moved up to second on the night in 18-49 behind rising numbers for telenovelas “Porque el Amor Manda” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall) and “Amores Verdaderos” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall).

Fox’s “MasterChef” was on par with last week, as its opening hour averaged a 2.2/8 in 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers overall, and its second pulled a 2.4/7 in the demo and 5.2 million viewers overall.

At CBS, “American Baking Competition” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) edged up for a second straight week as it nears its finale. It was followed by repeats of “Criminal Minds” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and “CSI” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall).

ABC maintained its recent levels with a mix or original and repeat programming, opening with an encore “The Middle” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall) and a firstrun “Family Tools” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall). They were followed by a repeat “Modern Family” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) and new episodes of comedy “How to Live With Your Parents…” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) and new summer series “The Lookout” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall). “Lookout” edged up week to week in 25-54 (1.5/4).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 2.4/7; Univision, 1.4/4; CBS, 1.2/4; ABC, 1.1/3; Telemundo, 0.7/2; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: CBS and NBC, 6.4 million; Fox, 5.6 million; ABC, 4.0 million; Univision, 3.6 million; Telemundo, 1.5 million; CW, 1.2 million.

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