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MMA, NHL and NASCAR—The Week That Was

June 5, 2008 2:13 PM

After a trip Down Under to visit the in-laws in Australia and overdosing on Australian Football (great sport), we’re back with a rundown on the goings-on in sports ratings.

First up—and I’ve covered this throughout the season—the NHL continued its ratings rush leading up to Wednesday’s Stanley Cup finale, as Game 6 between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins earned a series-high 4.5/8 metered market average.

“Two great teams, at the top of their game, generated significant interest,” said NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer. “Hopefully this provides a launching point for future growth. We can't wait for our season to begin, somewhere outdoors, next season.”

Through Game 5, the NHL Stanley Cup Finals have averaged a 3.0/6 (5.0 million viewers) nationally, up 88% over last year's abysmal 1.6/3. The enormous home-market audiences for both Detroit and Pittsburgh have been key elements to the ratings gain for the NHL Finals. Pittsburgh led all markets with a 37.4/51, followed by Detroit with a 30.6/45.

Meanwhile, Fox’s NASCAR season wrapped up last weekend in Dover, Del., with a 4.5/11 and 7.1 million viewers. Fox ended the season up in the sport, which critics had pronounced to be spiraling downward, averaging a 5.7/12 (9.5 million viewers) for all races, up 2% from last year’s 5.6/13 (9.3 million) despite sliding slightly in key male demos.

Finally this week, CBS debuted mixed martial arts on Saturday night, averaging a 3.0/6 (4.9 million viewers) for the “Elite X Saturday Night Fights.” The series improved the network’s time period greatly among younger demos (up 300% among men 18-34 and up 150% among men 18-49), even beating the Stanley Cup Finals’ Game 4 on NBC. That said, the sport did little to help the channel in households and total viewers, as CBS scored a 2.8/5, down 22% from the May average of a 3.6/7 and was also off 26% from the same night in 2007, an airing of “Ocean’s Twelve.”

We’ll dissect NBA Finals ratings as the week goes on.

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