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2010 Stanley Cup finals: Game 5 produces great ratings despite going up against NBA finals

Sunday night was a double-edged sword for sports fans. On one hand, it was great to have two championship-level sporting events going on at the same time. Still, sports junkies also had to choose between Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals or Game 2 of the NBA finals.

While a big market, history-soaked match between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers brought in the greatest audience, the Philadelphia Flyers-Chicago Blackhawks match generated a big increase in ratings compared to last year’s Game 5.

The primetime portion of the NBA Finals Game 2 on ABC between the Lakers & Celtics scored a 5.0 adults 18-49 rating from 8-11pm. That was up 6% from the fast affiliate ratings last year’s Game 2 (Orlando Magic vs. LA Lakers), which posted a 4.7/14 from 8-11p in the Fast Nationals before rising to a 5.8/17 from 8-11:12p in the Finals.

The primetime portion of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 on NBC between the Blackhawks & Flyers cored a 2.4 adults 18-49 rating from 8-11pm. That was up 33% from the fast affiliate ratings for last year’s Game 5 (Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings on Saturday 6/6/09), which posted a 1.6/6 in the Fast Nationals before rising to a 1.8/7 in the Finals.

Overall, it seems like ratings from the 2009 playoffs to this year’s playoffs have been up just about across the board. That’s pretty impressive for the NHL, especially considering the fact that last year’s Red Wings-Penguins series was such a star-packed affair. Also, as Steve Lepore of Puck the Media points out, the ratings improved compared to last year’s Cup finals Game 5 even though that match didn’t contend with a championship-level pro basketball game.

To some extent, the sport is still recovering from the lingering effects of the Obstruction Era and the fallout from the lockout. But with a wide-open game, plenty of star power and the hugely successful 2010 Vancouver Olympics pushing things forward, hockey continues to grow as a sport in North America.

Now, if these two teams could just make it to a Game 7 ...