The 2011 Stanley Cup Final between two Cup-starved fan bases in Boston and Vancouver helped the NHL draw its best TV ratings in 38 years.
The winner-take-all Game 7 between the Bruins and Canucks attracted 8.54 million viewers on NBC in the U.S., the highest American rating for any NHL game in the last 38 years.
Canada saw higher ratings as well, with 8.76 million viewers tuning in to watch Game 7 on CBC and another 1.04 million catching the contest on French-language channel RDS.
The only game to attract more viewers on CBC was the 2002 Olympic hockey final between the USA and Canada, which had 8.96 million people watching.
Between the U.S. and Canada, an estimated 18.3 million people saw the Bruins defeat the Canucks 4-0 in Game 7, the highest viewership total on record in NHL history.
It wasn't just Game 7 that attracted viewers either. The series had the highest average North American rating in Stanley Cup Final history, with an average of 11.5 million people tuning in per game.
The Boston-Vancouver matchup seemed to be a dream scenario for the league as both markets watched in record numbers. Game 7 earned a 43.4/64 rating in Boston, easily making it the most-watched hockey game in the city. Stanley Cup fever gripped Beantown in a big way, as the series had a rating 12 percent higher than the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals in 2010.
Canadian viewers were anxiously hoping to see Lord Stanley's Cup return north of the border for the first time since 1993. CBC averaged 6.15 million viewers during the seven-game series, the best Stanley Cup Final in CBC history.
Interest jumped with Vancouver in the Final, as the ratings were 98 percent higher than last year's Philadelphia-Chicago series and 186 percent higher than the 2009 Stanley Cup Final between Pittsburgh and Detroit.
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