Dave beats Conan, and NHL gets blame despite good ratings

The overnights for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC are in, and the ratings remain "hockey strong" for the Peacock (3.9 in the ratings with a 7 share) while nowhere near Game 3 of the NBA Finals (8.7/14).

Steve Lepore of Puck The Media reports that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings drew some impressive numbers demographically and incrementally:

Thanks to the Programming Insider, we now know that the NHL drew 5.45 Million Viewers and a 2.2 among Adults 18-49.  That was #3 in total viewers and #2 for the night in the demo. The game peaked with a monster (for hockey) 6.96 Million Viewers and a 2.8/8 in the demo at 10PM.  It was at its weakest in the 8PM half-hour with 4.53 Million Viewers and a 1.8 in the demo.

(Wow, 6.96 million viewers? That would have potentially dropped all the way down to 6.94 million viewers if the big screens were allowed at the Joe and Mellon. But probably not.)

The ratings news has been really all over the map for the NHL lately; and by that we mean it's gone between a 29-percent decline in Game 5 viewers (due to the weekend/weekday paradox) to the buck huntin'/cage-fightin'/occasional hockey network Versus actually averaging more viewers than ESPN last week thanks in part to its Stanley Cup coverage.

Last night, the news was mixed again: Strong numbers for hockey, but not so strong for "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," which lost to "The Late Show with David Letterman" for the first time on Tuesday. The Live Feed believes the NHL deserves some of the blame in a roundabout way:

The ratings gap between the hosts has been narrowing nearly ever night since O'Brien took control of the "Tonight" franchise. The last time "Late Show" topped Jay Leno's "Tonight" was back in October. NBC aired live NHL playoff coverage Tuesday in primetime, which led to low-rated local programming airing in the latter hours on the West Coast, providing "Tonight" with a weaker-than-usual lead-in.

Surely it has nothing to do with the other five nights of NBC broadcasting consisting of low-buzz reruns and Sanjaya massaging the corpse of Janice Dickinson in a jungle, right?

For our U.S. readers: What did you think of NBC's coverage last night? Outside of Mike Milbury pushing himself (and the viewers) to the edge of sanity with his between-periods rant as "Mike Babcock" on Marian Hossa.

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