Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks aren't the only ones celebrating their first Stanley Cup victory since 1961.
According to NBC Sports, last night's game that decided the National Hockey League champion attracted an overnight rating of 5.8 and a 10 share, the best overnight rating for a Stanley Cup final in 36 years. ( A single ratings point represents about 1.1 million households.) Viewership was up 41% over last year's contest between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, who were vanquished in Game 6 by the Blackhawks 4-to-3 in overtime, news about the Stanley Cup's surging television popularity only adds to their heartache. The championship game that was previously the most watched was the 1974 contest between the Flyers and the Boston Bruins, which brought the Stanley Cup to the City of Brotherly Love. As Philadelphia sports fans are painfully aware, the Flyers haven't won it since the team was called the "Broad Street Bullies."
The ratings success also vindicates NBC's faith in hockey. The General Electric (GE) network struck an unusual deal in 2004 with the NHL in which it paid no fees for broadcasting rights. Instead, it agreed to split advertising revenue with the League. Both parties have benefited from the deal, which was extended for two years in 2009. Hockey also is a big deal for Comcast (CMCSA), the Flyers' owner and corporate suitor for NBC Sports' parent NBC Universal.
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