Thursday marked the start of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and, as suggested here previously, the elimination of all three Canadian teams in the first round has caught Rogers with its head down.
Last Monday’s seventh and deciding game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins drew an overnight, estimated 1,888,000 A2+ viewers to CBC’s coverage and another 1,775,000 over on Sportsnet National for a combined audience of close to 3.7 million. That was pretty much the same estimate for the Game 6 take Sunday between the Leafs and the Bruins.
Thursday, as Round 2 began, the main, early prime game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston drew an overnight, estimated A2+ audience of 587,000 viewers. In Canada’s largest TV market, Toronto, 103,000 watched on CBC affiliate CBLT. Again, as suggested here, many Toronto NHL fans have had enough of the Boston Bruins.
Sportsnet National had a larger share of that same game Thursday, with 839,000 estimated as watching Columbus-Boston. Combined, the unconfirmed audience in Canada for the second round tilt was 1,426,000 — less than 40 per cent of the audience for Leafs – Bruins in Game 7.
Thursdays late game was the second round opener between the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues. An overnight, estimated 555,000 stuck around on Sportsnet National for that game.
That was about half the audience that is estimated to have watched Law & Order: SVU at 10 p.m. Thursday on CTV (1,118,000). Global’s Big Brother Canada also had a big night, drawing 1,058,000 at 8 p.m., opposite the night’s biggest winner, CTV’s The Big Bang Theory (2,271,000).
There are compelling match-ups this year in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Plus, can the cagy and experienced Bruins — with home ice advantage through the rest of the playoffs — prevail against several Cinderella teams, including Columbus, Dallas, St. Louis and the Islanders?
The loss of the Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames, however seems to have dampened hometown television interests. Beyond that, marquee names such as Crosby, Ovechkin, Austin Matthews, P.K. Subban and, going further back, Connor McDavid, are all out of the tournament. With so much competition on other channels as well as on digital streaming services — including the series finales of both Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory as well as the Toronto Raptors NBA playoff march — could this be the lowest-rated Stanley Cup playoffs of the Rogers’ era?