Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, March 01, 2021

eyes have it
Much ado over “the most-watched hockey game in 30 years”, with an estimated 27.6 million Americans watching the U.S.-Canada gold medal game. The context:

To put the numbers in perspective, Sunday’s game drew a higher overnight rating than every World Series game since 2004 (including every game of Yankees/Phillies last year), every NBA Finals telecast since 1998, and every NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four game since at least ‘98.

Excluding the NFL, the 17.6 overnight for the game is the second-highest of the year for any sporting event, behind only the Texas/Alabama BCS National Championship Game in January (18.2).

That kind of televised turnout sparks discussion on how, or if, it’ll transfer over to the National Hockey League.

The short answer: It won’t.

Certainly, hockey proved itself worthy of the showcase-event placement it garnered as the closing act of the Games (especially impressive considering that standard Olympics presentations tend to emphasize individual athletic personalities). And certainly, the fervor created by Vancouver will net the NHL a few extra followers for the stretch run of the 2009-10 season. But let’s face it: People tuned in because this was a once-every-four-years happening, and the grand finale happened to feature a storybook North American rivalry. The echoes of 1980 (strained as they were) helped build the momentum for the U.S., as well (the Canadians, of course, didn’t need any such priming of the pump).

But, for all the enthusiasm that was generated, I don’t see it carrying past the extinguished Olympic torches. It was indeed a self-contained moment, part of what made it special. There’s no sense of re-living that experience by catching the next NHL game on Versus or NBC, let alone on a regional sports network.

It is amusing to think how the league could attempt to capitalize on the concept, though. Maybe continue to ride Ryan Miller as Team USA’s golden boy, and make the Buffalo Sabres “America’s team” for the NHL playoffs? They could do worse.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/01/2021 11:48pm
Category: Hockey, Society, TV
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