If there’s one thing Midwesterners dislike, it’s being referred to as flyover country in any context. We get it a lot with two key areas of American culture: politics and sports. People talk about how major sports leagues want big, coastal markets for the ratings all of the time, and discount the possibility that anyone within non-coastal markets care to watch, or that maybe those non-coastal markets have fans who have transplanted elsewhere.
St. Louis has long been one of the most consistent markets for the NHL on NBC, and have given the Blues banner ratings throughout the playoffs. If you thought that Blues fans weren’t going to tune in for game seven, you’re nuts. You can be forgiven if you just underestimated the numbers, though.
From NBC Sports:
St. Louis delivered a 41.8 local rating, NBC Sports’ highest-rated Blues game ever in the market, topping Game 6 by 27% (33.0). It is also NBC Sports’ third-highest rated local market rating for an NHL game ever, behind Boston’s 43.4 for Game 7 vs. Vancouver in 2011 and Pittsburgh’s 42.2 for Game 7 vs. Detroit in 2009.
The 41.8 rating in St. Louis exceeded the market’s rating for Super Bowl LIII (2019), which delivered a 39.8 rating for Rams-Patriots. The Rams played in St. Louis from 1995-2015. In addition to the 41.8 rating, St. Louis delivered a 60 share, meaning six in 10 households in the market that were watching television at the time were tuned into Game 7.
Hey Stan, what about that dying sports market? SIXTY PERCENT of St. Louis’ television watching households were tuned into game seven. Overall, the series topped out in St. Louis with a 28.7 share.
For all of the naysayers who don’t think smaller markets can draw, game seven was the highest rated NHL game since the league started keeping tabs on things like that since in 1994. It drew nearly nine million viewers nationwide, was the most streamed game in NBC Sports history, and these Finals were the most watched in six years and the most watched non-Chicago Finals ever.
Observant hockey fans may have noticed that Gary Bettman really likes our city. He had nothing but praise before, during, and after the Winter Classic in 2017, and he likes the renovations to Enterprise Center. It wasn’t just the renovations that played a part in bringing next season’s All Star Game to St. Louis. It’s the market, it’s the people, and it’s the fans. This is one of the nation’s hockey hotbeds, whether people notice it or not, and it’s going to do nothing but grow after the Stanley Cup win. Bettman and the league aren’t blind.
So enjoy the perks of being one of the NHL’s newer favorite cities; perhaps it will help get the World Juniors bid that the Blues lost out on a while ago, or the NHL Draft, sometime in the near future.