Now that Hell has frozen over and The Toronto Maple Leafs made in past The Tampa Bay Lightning in Round One, will Rogers finally see an enormous surge in Stanley Cup viewership?
The fifth game in the tight series, a victory for Tampa that put a temporary chill in Leaf National parade route plans, drew 1,997,000 viewers in overnight estimated Thursday on Sportsnet National and another 1,327,000 on CBC for a same day broadcast total of 3,324,000.
That was slightly more than the 3.2M who watched the third game in the series a week Saturday and much more than the 2.6M who stayed up for the Game 4 overtime thriller.
It’s reasonable to assume that this past Saturday’s deciding game, the third in the series to go into overtime (all won by The Leafs), approached or topped four million in overnight estimates.
Can Leaf ratings go higher in the second round? Depends on the opponent. The suddenly struggling Bruins, Leafs arch nemesis in recent decades, would seem a bigger draw than the plucky Florida Panthers. The seventh and deciding game in that series happens Sunday.
Also, and this is just a hunch: some viewers who might otherwise have watched the Leafs in the opening round may have been fooled so often in the past 19 fruitless years that they simply sat out the opening round this year. Now that the team has shown skeptics they can win in April, there could be some bandwagon jumping.
That would be very good news for Rogers, deep into a 12-year, $5.2 billion exclusive rights deal with the NHL. You know that long-departed former Rogers Sports and Entertainment heads Keith Pelley and Scott Moore did not have 2023 in their Leafs-win-a-playoff-round pool.
Without the Leafs, the numbers are just not as robust in Stanley Cup playoff viewership. Last Thursday’s final Winnipeg Jets loss to the Vegas Knights drew under a million on the combined overnight totals for Sportsnet and CBC coverage. The only other Canadian rooting interest in Canada these playoffs is the Edmonton Oilers, who won their opening round in six tough games, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 Saturday. That series averaged roughly half of what the Leafs-Lightning tilt totalled.
Other overnight numbers of note from Thursday, April 27: That Last Late Late Show prime time sendoff for James Corden drew 578,000 at 10 p.m. ET on CTV. Corden’s final Late Late Show in its regular, 12:37 a.m. ET timeslot drew an estimated 240,000 on the same Canadian broadcaster.