Game 6 between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks--in which the Wings won a third straight game to tie the series after falling behind 0-3--shattered the Fox Sports Detroit viewer record. Game 7 one upped Game 6.
Fox Sports Detroit drew a 22.5 rating on Thursday night for Game 7, a 3-2 thriller that saw the Sharks beat the Red Wings to avoid an epic collapse. FSD averaged nearly 424,000 homes in the Metro Detroit area for the entire broadcast, shattering the 367,000 average for Game 6.
According to FSD, the game was the second-highest local Red Wings broadcast ever, topped only by Game 3 of the 1999 Western Conference semifinals with the Colorado Avalanche. Back in those days Red Wings games were broadcast by WKBD 50, which was an affiliate of the now-defunct UPN television network.
Game 7 also set a record in San Jose, as 180,000 homes tuned in on Comcast Sports Network in the Bay Area.
The Game 7 ratings are proof that the Red Wings have one of the more loyal and avid fanbases in the NHL. People are quick to jump on Wings fans when they see a smattering of empty seats at Joe Louis Arena during the season, but the Joe was jumping during Game 6 and the FSD crowd more than doubled the San Jose audience (which is also a much larger TV market).
With the Red Wings out of the playoffs, it eliminates a huge TV audience for the NHL. Hockey mad Vancouver is great, but it is significantly smaller than the Detroit market. Metro Boston is roughly the same size as Detroit and the Bruins could benefit from the Celtics' elimination from the NBA playoffs. Tampa Bay, well, lets just say they're new at this; Game 7 between the Lightning and Penguins drew a 4.5 local rating, about 81,000 homes. Expect TV ratings for the NHL to drop a bit during the final rounds with the Red Wings out.