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Record numbers for Canada / USA Gold Medal Hockey Game; 16.6M in Canada, 27.6M on NBC

The Gold Medal Hockey match between Team Canada and Team USA yesterday drew a record 16.6 million viewers in Canada (the biggest television telecast ever in the country) and 27.6 million on NBC (most-watched Hockey game since the 1980 Lake Placid Hockey game).  Meanwhile, the  closing ceremonies drew 14.3 million viewers in Canada (which makes it the 2nd most-watched telecast in country history).

And for historical purposes, NBC notes that the the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” game between Russia and USA drew 34.2 million average viewers, while the 1980 Lake Placid Gold Medal game drew 32.8 million average viewers. I’ve included both the NBC and CTV press releases after the jump.

NBC Press Release

MOST WATCHED HOCKEY GAME IN 30 YEARS

27.6 Million Watched Canada’s 3-2 OT Victory Over the USA in the Gold Medal Hockey Game on Sunday Afternoon, Best Since 1980 Lake Placid Games

The 15.2/30 Household Rating is Also Best Since 1980 Lake Placid Gold Medal Game

Vancouver – March 1, 2010 – Sunday afternoon’s USA vs. Canada gold medal hockey game, that NBC’s Bob Costas called, “One of the greatest sports events I have ever seen,” was the most-watched hockey game in 30 years. Canada’s epic 3-2 overtime victory (3:20-6:13 p.m. ET) drew an average viewership of 27.6 million, the most watched hockey broadcast of any kind since the USA vs. Finland 1980 gold medal game in Lake Placid on Feb. 24, 1980 (32.8 million). For historical comparison, the “Miracle on Ice” USA-Russia semifinal game that aired on tape delay on Feb 22, 1980 from the Lake Placid Games drew 34.2 million average viewers.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a front-row seat to observe a nation of fans that appreciates winter sports, is proud of their winter sport heritage and celebrates success – no matter which country wins – so it was only fitting yesterday when Sidney Crosby scored the goal to give Canadians the gold that meant so much to this country,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. “‘O Canada’ will never be the same.”

TOPS 2002 SALT LAKE GOLD MEDAL GAME BY 10.5 MILLION VIEWERS: The 27.6 million viewers for Sunday’s gold medal game was 10.5 million more (up 61 percent) from the Canada-USA gold medal game from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (17.1 million viewers).

The 15.2/30 rating for yesterday’s game was four-and-a-half rating points higher than the 10.7/24 for the 2002 gold medal game and was the highest-rated hockey game of any kind since the USA vs. Finland 1980 gold medal game (23.2/61). The “Miracle on Ice” semifinal game between the USA and Russia had a household rating of a 23.9/37.

The audience peaked at 34.8 million viewers (18.6/34 hh rating) from 5:30-6 p.m. ET, when the USA’s Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) sent the game to overtime with the tying goal with just 24.4 seconds left in regulation. Canada’s Sydney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) gave Canada the gold medal, their 14th of the Winter Games (most of any country) when he got the puck past the USA’s Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) just over seven minutes into overtime.

Below is a list of the highest-rated and most watched hockey broadcasts of all time broken down by: Household Rating/Share, Average audience (people 2+) and Total Audience:

GAME Avg. Viewers Total Viewers RTG/SH

USA/Russia, 1980 (Miracle on Ice) 34.2 million 51.9 million 23.9/37

USA/Finland, 1980 (gold medal) 32.8 million 55.6 million 23.2/61

USA/Canada, 2010 (gold medal) 27.6 million n/a 15.2/30

USA/Canada, 2002 (gold medal) 17.1 million 38 million 10.7/24

Unified/USA, 1992 (semifinal) 11.7 million 25 million 9.3/32

AUDIENCE FOR GOLD MEDAL GAME SURPASSES TOP EVENTS:

The 27.6 million average viewers for the USA-Canada Gold Medal hockey game surpassed the following during the 2009-2010 seasons:

2010 Grammy Awards 25.9 million

2010 Rose Bowl 24.0 million

2009 World Series 4 22.8 million (Gm. 4 was most watched)

2009 NCAA Basketball Championship 17.6 million

2009 NBA Finals – Game 4 16.0 million (Gm. 4 was most watched)

2010 Daytona 500 16.0 million

2009 Masters Golf – Sunday 14.3 million

NBC’s BOB COSTAS ON GOLD MEDAL GAME: “That’s one of the greatest sports events I have ever seen.”

“A script so classic that if it were a movie, they would send it back because it was unrealistic.”

“With all due respect, this can never be repeated. On home soil, for Canada, in the sport that matters most, against the Americans – this can never be repeated. This can never be approached, let alone equaled.”

NBC’s AL MICHAELS THOUGHTS ON THE GAME: “You could not have written a better script for this country. The goal that will resonate throughout history in Canada.”

FROM THE OPENING TEASE OF NBC’S COVERAGE, 17 DAYS AGO: “The host nation is on a mission. No one bears the weight of expectations like the 22-year-old captain of the Stanley Cup champions. O Canada’s face of the Games, charged with leading his nation’s pursuit of their Holy Grail – the Olympic hockey title.”

UNIVERSAL SPORTS TO REPLAY GOLD MEDAL MATCH: For anybody who missed this game or want to watch it again, Universal Sports, the preeminent multiplatform destination for Olympic-related sports programming which is available in 57 million homes, will replay the USA-Canada Olympic gold medal hockey game this Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET with repeats each night at 11 p.m. ET.

OLYMPIC STARS RETURN IN NHL “GAME OF THE WEEK” THIS SUNDAY: This Sunday, March 7, the NHL returns to NBC as the Detroit Red Wings led by silver medalist Brian Rafalski of Team USA travels to Chicago to take on a Chicago Blackhawks team filled with members of both Team USA and the gold medal-winning Team Canada. Among those suiting up for the Blackhawks are Team USA’s Patrick Kane and Team Canada’s Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Bren Seabrook. The NHL “Game of the Week” from the United Center will air this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Top 25 Metered Markets for USA-Canada Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Game:

1. Buffalo, 32.6/51

2. Pittsburgh, 31.9/50

3. Detroit, 26.9/47

4. Minneapolis, 26.4/53

5. Milwaukee, 24.5/43

6. Boston, 24.1/46

7. Chicago, 23.5/41

8. Columbus, 22.3/37

9. Denver, 22.2/42

10. Philadelphia, 20.9/35

11. West Palm Beach, 20.3/33

12. Kansas City, 19.5/35

13. St. Louis, 19.4/39

14. Seattle, 19.3/45

15. Cincinnati, 19.2/31

16. New York, 19.0/36

17. Hartford, 18.5/30

18. Providence, 18.4/34

T19. Salt Lake City, 18.3/38

T19. Cleveland, 18.3/32

T21. Washington, D.C., 18.1/33

T21. Baltimore, 18.1/32

23. Ft. Myers, 18.0/34

T24. Austin, 17.1/34

T24. Indianapolis, 17.1/29

CTV Press Release

Oh Canada!! 16.6 Million Watch Team Canada Ignite a Nation

– 14.3 million watch Closing Ceremony as Vancouver 2010 comes to a close –

Vancouver, BC (March 1, 2010) – It was an epic game that delivered an epic audience. Yesterday’s gold medal Men’s Hockey game has become the most-watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history, with an average audience of 16.6 million viewers. Nearly half of the Canadian population watched the entire game on average, while 80% of Canadians watched some part of the game (26.5 million). The game aired live on nine television networks in eight languages via Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium.

“Crosby scores! Sidney Crosby! The golden goal! And Canada has once-in-a-lifetime Olympic gold!,” called play-by-play announcer Chris Cuthbert as Canada clinched its record-breaking 14th gold medal. “These Golden Games have their crowning moment.”

Additionally, the 2010 Winter Games Closing Ceremony becomes the second most-watched broadcast ever, as 14.3 million viewers said goodbye to Vancouver 2010. A total of 24.5 million watched some part of the broadcast.

Detailed ratings summary to follow.

About Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium
Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium is a unique relationship between leading media conglomerates CTV Inc. and Rogers Media Inc., which together provided unprecedented coverage and consumer choice in English, French and multi-languages on multiple platforms for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The partnership will continue for the upcoming 2010 Paralympic Winter Games and the London 2012 Games of the Olympiad. Official brands include CTV, TSN, RDS, RIS Info Sports, Rogers Sportsnet, OMNI, OLN, V, APTN, ATN, CTVOlympics.ca, RDSolympiques.ca, The Globe and Mail, Corus Québec and select Rogers radio stations across the country.

Television: Preliminary overnight data from BBM Canada.

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