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Dan Caesar is the sports media critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It was an unprecedented night in St. Louis, with the Blues ending the longest wait in NHL history for a team's first championship. And it produced an unprecedented performance in terms of television ratings, drawing not only the biggest number on record locally and nationally for a hockey game but also the top figure for any program shown in the Gateway City in nearly 2½ years.

Nielsen, which tracks viewership, reports that 41.8 percent of homes in the market with a TV tuned in to KSDK (Channel 5) for NBC’s telecast Wednesday night of the Blues’ 4-1 victory over Boston. That demolished the previous hockey ratings mark, 33.0 for Game 6.

The top four hockey figures came in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, and the number Wednesday was the highest for any program in St. Louis since the 2017 Super Bowl. That telecast, on KTVI (Channel 2), was at 47.5.

BIG EVENTS, BY THE NUMBERS

A look at television ratings in St. Louis this century for Blues Stanley Cup Final games, Cardinals Word Series contests and St. Louis Rams Super Bowl appearances: RAMS, 2002 vs. New England: 52.4 RAMS, 2000 vs. Tennessee: 55.6 Note: The rating is the percentage of homes with a TV tuning in.

Game No. BLUES CARDINALS CARDINALS CARDINALS CARDINALS
2019 2013 2011 2006 2004
vs. Boston vs. Boston vs. Texas vs. Detroit vs. Boston
Game 1 29.0 36.0 47.3 41.7 42.3
Game 2 22.0 42.0 49.4 47.8 46.9
Game 3 16.1 37.2 39.3 52.1 45.3
Game 4 28.0 46.7 45.4 51.3 42.6
Game 5 30.1 43.8 46.9 51.7
Game 6 33.0 49.4 49.4
Game 7 41.8 52.7
Avg. 28.6 42.5 47.2 48.9 44.3

The rating Wednesday was remarkable for a city labeled as a baseball town, and while it did not rival the last Cardinals’ Game 7 of a World Series (a 52.7 rating for a victory over Texas in 2011), it was incredible.

Nielsen says a whopping 60 percent of homes in the market with a TV on while the game was being played were tuned to the contest.

“It exceeded our expectations,” KSDK general manager Alicia Elsner said Thursday. “Particularly the postgame (show).”

Channel 5’s local production drew a 27.7 rating from 10-10:30 p.m., and several other stations also showed those festivities. Adding in the ratings of 10.2 from KMOV (Channel 4), 7.6 from KTVI (Channel 2), 4.6 from NBCSN, 1.5 from Fox Sports Midwest and 0.4 from NHL Network, coverage in that block combined for a massive figure of 52.0.

That indicates that a significant number of non-sports fans who might not have watched much, if any, of the game got caught up in the hoopla.

“There definitely was an appetite for it,” Elsner said.

There sure was. The numbers for the game and festivities afterward are even more impressive when it is considered that tens of thousands of people were watching at Enterprise Center, Busch Stadium and other public places downtown and throughout the region. The rating measures only in-home viewing.

Nationally, the game drew a 4.9 rating, edging the previous best figure — 4.84 for Game 7 of the Boston-Vancouver series in 2011. The contest was seen by 8.9 million people, according to NBC, making it also the most-watched NHL game under the current form of measuring viewership that dates to 1994. There were 8.7 million viewers on TV, the rest on NBC Sports’ website or app. It also was the most-streamed NHL game ever.

The rating in St. Louis was the third-best on record in a local market ever for an NHL game. Boston was at 43.4 for Game 7 in 2011, and Pittsburgh at 42.2 for Game 7 in 2009.

The rating Wednesday night in Boston was 30.2

CURSE AVOIDED

There will be no Cubs-style billy goat or Bartman curse, courtesy of the Post-Dispatch, for the Blues. Their victory Wednesday night made a gaffe last weekend by the newspaper a mere footnote, at best, to the team’s season.

On Sunday, several hours before the Blues lost Game 6 at home, the publication sent an electronic version of the paper to some subscribers in which advertisers congratulated the team on winning the title. It also included a letter from club owner Tom Stillman thanking fans for supporting the team. It is common practice to have such things ready in advance, but certainly not for them to be released before the fact.

“There was a failure in process regarding an automated computer script for our 6/9 Sunday e-edition,” Post-Dispatch general manager Ian Caso said. “The e-edition is a digital copy of the daily paper available for download for our subscribers. We have added new protocols for all digitized print ads and have made changes to our automated scripts.

“Of course we’re thrilled that the Blues won and we join the rest of the city in celebrating along with them.”

CUP CRAZY

Fox Sports Midwest’s secondary channel, Fox Sports Midwest Plus, will show 24 hours of Stanley Cup material beginning at 6 a.m. Friday. The production will intersperse file video of the Cup accompanied by audio highlights from the season, with replays of FSM’s postgame show from Wednesday.

On Saturday, FSM as well as channels 2, 4 and 5 plan to show the Blues’ victory parade and the celebration that follows on the Arch grounds.