After all the dial-switching Monday night by Western New York sports fans, the NBA and NHL finished with the same rating for much-anticipated playoff games.
Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory over San Jose in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final had a 5.6 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate. It started at 8 p.m.
Golden State’s 96-88 victory over Oklahoma City in Game 7 of the star-studded Western Conference final had the same 5.6 rating locally on cable’s TNT. It started at 9 p.m.
In the two hours where the hockey and basketball games battled head-to-head, the NHL won with a 6.2 average rating from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. The NBA game averaged a 4.9 rating for those two hours. The rating for the basketball game rose dramatically in the fourth quarter after the Stanley Cup game ended. At 10:45 p.m., the NBA game had a 5.8 rating. It rose to a 7.8 at 11 p.m. and finished with an 8.8 rating as the Warriors' Stephen Curry was clinching the game with some incredible shots.
The NHL had a slight advantage since its first game in the final series was on a broadcast network while the basketball game to determine which team would make the finals was on a cable network that not everyone gets.
There could be a local debate whether Game 7 of a series to determine which team would make the basketball finals is more or less important than Game 1 of the actual final hockey series.
But when the final national ratings come in, it probably will be no contest. The NBA game is expected to have a much higher rating nationally than the NHL game. Indeed, Buffalo and Pittsburgh could end up being the only TV markets where hockey tied or beat basketball. According to the Sports Business Journal, the Golden State-OKC game had a preliminary 11.2 overnight rating for 56 markets, the Pittsburgh-San Jose game a 2.8 rating. The final national rating should be close to that.
The NBA has to be thrilled by Golden State’s victory for multiple reasons. It means the finals between Golden State and Cleveland that start Thursday on ABC will feature two of the league’s biggest stars in league MVP Curry and Cleveland’s LeBron James, a former MVP.
The series also is a rematch of last year’s finals, in which Cleveland played without two of its injured stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. And finally, the Warriors’ Oakland-San Francisco-San Jose TV market is No. 6 in the nation, while Oklahoma City is No. 43.
The big live sporting events undoubtedly impacted the rating for part one of the remake of the classic TV miniseries “Roots.” It had a combined 2.4 local rating on the History Channel, Lifetime and A&E. However, the rating for the series could rise dramatically when DVR and On Demand viewing is added. The series continues Tuesday through Thursday.