ESPN’s ratings for the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals fell 57% from last year, the lowest cable viewership for the NHL’s championship round in four years.
The games between the Mighty Ducks and New Jersey Devils, both 3-0 wins for New Jersey, were watched in an average of 1.23% of the 87 million U.S. homes with cable television, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc.
That’s about 1.07 million viewers, less than the average for Arena Football League games on NBC this season.
The first two games of last year’s Stanley Cup finals between the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings attracted a 2.8 rating on ESPN.
Game 1 of this year’s finals drew 1.4% of viewers on Tuesday, and Game 2 was watched by 1.1% on Thursday.
Both games were played at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.
The average for the first two games is the lowest since ESPN and ABC, both owned by Walt Disney Co., began their five-year, $600-million broadcasting contract with the NHL during the 1999-2000 season.
Defenseman Tim Gleason, 20, whose rights were acquired by the Kings in a trade that sent veteran forward Bryan Smolinski to the Ottawa Senators on March 11, signed a three-year contract with the club Friday.
The native of Clawson, Mich., the 23rd pick in the 2001 draft, would have gone back into the draft pool if the Kings hadn’t signed him before midnight tonight.
“We feel we have signed an outstanding young prospect,” General Manager Dave Taylor said of Gleason, who was twice a member of Team USA’s world junior championship team. “Tim is an elite skater and a gritty, fierce competitor.”
Center Vincent Damphousse will return to the San Jose Sharks next season after exercising his $4-million player option on Friday.