If the Kings win the Cup, and no one’s watching, does it still count?

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Hockey Night in L.A. ain’t an automatic ratings grabber, eh?

Despite bringing the No. 2 TV market in the Stanley Cup Final, L.A. and New York-market friendly New Jersey generated just a 1.7 final Nielsen rating and 2.9 million viewers for NBC’s Saturday night Game 2 – the smallest audience for a final telecast since ’07.

You might remember that classic involved the Anaheim Ducks almost of Los Angeles against the Ottawa Senators of somewhere in Siberia.

The Sports Business Daily reports that Saturday night’s telecast was down 23 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from a 2.2 rating and 3.569 million viewers for the Boston-Vancouver Game 2 a year ago.

Game 1 was also down 33 percent from last season’s Bruins-Canucks opener, a 1.8 Nielsen rating with 2.9 million viewers, making it the lowest-rated NHL Stanley Cup Final opener since the league returned the first game to broadcast TV in ’09. The Bruins-Canucks opener did a 2.7 rating and had 4.6 million viewers, the most-watched Stanley Cup Final opener in 12 years.

Kind of a surprise, considering how the first two games went into overtime and both were on NBC’s main channel. No word yet on how few across the country saw Monday’s Game 3, considering it was in the NBC Witness Protection Program, aka the NBC Sports Network, and not even many L.A. sports bars have it on their menu. Let alone casual fans trying to find out what all the hockey comotion is all about.

Smooth move, NBC. But in the end, having the game on the NBC Sports Network served its purpose — it forced people in L.A. to track it down, and it didn’t interrupt the NBC network prime-time lineup (at least in the East) of “America’s Got Talent,” which would easily outdraw hockey in that period.

From an NBC Sports spokesman: “The NBC Sports Network is the home of hockey in the U.S. It televises up to 100 NHL regular-season games, more than 50 playoff games — including exclusive coverage beginning with the Conference Semifinals (with NBC and CNBC) — and, as it has done every year since 2006, two games of the Stanley Cup Final. The network is in nearly 80 million homes and growing.”

Anything after Game 4 will be back on NBC, or KNBC-Channel 4 in L.A. Unless the Kings end it Wednesday, which is why they want two games on cable before Game 5.

The network did reveal these numbers this morning as well:

== Los Angeles received a 4.95 household rating for Game 3 Monday, the highest local rating ever in the market for an NHL game on NBCSN. The game was up 127 percent from the Kings’ 2012 Conference Final average against the Phoenix Coyotes on NBCSN (2.18). The delivery in Los Angeles was up 71 percent from NBCSN’s previous best in the market (2.90, Kings/Coyotes conference final Game 5 on May 22).

== NBC Sports Network was the No. 1-rated network overall in Los Angeles during the 5-to-7:45 p.m. time period.

== New York received a 3.02 household rating, up 47 percent in comparison to the
Devils’ 2012 Eastern Conference semifinal average against the Philadelphia Flyers on NBCSN (2.06). The NBC Sports Network was the No. 20-rated cable network (behind TNT) in New York during the 8-to-10:45 p.m. (EDT) time period.

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