As the Chicago Blackhawks secured their claim to a dynasty, the 2015 Stanley Cup Final champions helped NBC Sports deliver some of the biggest ratings in NHL history.
Chicago on Monday night beat Tampa 2-0, securing its third title in six years. In so doing, the Hawks capped the tenth most-watched Stanley Cup game since Nielsen began keeping track back in 1966, as NBC's broadcast averaged 8.01 million total viewers.
Monday night's finale tucked in under NBC's presentation of Game 6 of the Chicago-Bruins grudge match, which drew 8.16 million viewers in June 2013. The all-time most-watched NHL game was Game 7 of the epic 1971 Montreal-Chicago series, which scared up 12.4 million viewers on CBS.
Over the course of the six-game series, NBC and its cable counterpart NBCSN combined for an average draw of 5.53 million viewers and a 3.2 household rating. (As with most high-profile sporting events, networks make guarantees to advertisers against household deliveries rather than the almighty 18-49 demo.) This makes the 2015 Stanley Cup Final the second-biggest draw since NBC Sports reclaimed the rights to the NHL back in 2006.
Per iSpot.tv estimates, the Hawks-Lightning series generated $43.6 million for NBC and its standalone cable sports network. By that reckoning, the average unit cost for 30 seconds of ad time in the six games was just shy of $96,000 a pop.
Among the biggest advertisers in and around the Stanley Cup were offical NHL Marketing Partners Honda, Geico and Coors.
Despite featuring a market that isn't exactly steeped in hockey lore (sorry, Tampa), the Hawks-Lightning series easily out-delivered last year's New York Rangers-Los Angeles Kings Cup Final. Per Nielsen, the five-game throwdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 DMA (designated market area) averaged 5.01 million viewers and a 2.8 household rating.
Chicago nailed down its sixth Stanley Cup title in its 89-year history on home ice. This seemed particularly apt, as there may be no more rabid fan base in professional sports. According to the NHL's annual attendance report, the Hawks' average home attendance this season was 21,769—in other words, in each of the club's 41 home games, around 2,000 fans bought standing-room-only tickets. That counts as a 110% sellout level.
And even if ice doesn't naturally occur outdoors in the Tampa-St. Pete area, give Lightning fans credit for being steadfast in their support for the local franchise. Tampa this season sold 98% of its available seats inside Amalie Arena.
Chicago led all local markets during the six-game Final, averaging a 27.3 household rating, while Tampa delivered a 14.9 household rating. Hockey-crazed Buffalo, N.Y. averaged a 7.1 rating, making it the top DMA among cities with no skin in the game.