While it’s probably a long-shot for the NHL to ever leapfrog the NBA for more than a few scattered evenings, that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that hockey is on a hot streak. Naturally, the fantastic Vancouver Olympics were a huge draw but the playoffs and Winter Classic also made a huge impact.
NHL.com features an article that shows how big of a jump hockey saw in just about every category. From Web site hits to merchandise/ticket sales to TV ratings, the league saw a healthy increase. Here are a few highlighted facts from the post.
First, let’s take a look at a few tidbits regarding NBC’ coverage.
Game 6 of the Final on NBC was the most-watched (8.28 million) and highest-rated NHL game (4.7) on U.S. television in 36 years.
NBC Sports broadcast four of the series’ six games (1-2, 5-6). Those four games averaged 6.1 million viewers, the best on network TV in 13 years.
NBC Sports’ coverage of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final earned the best overnight rating (4.1 rating and 7 share) for a Game 2 on record (NHL overnight data prior to 1975 is unavailable).
Not bad. CBC, Versus and regional networks saw some nice jumps as well. TSN saw a staggering 70 percent increase in average audience. NHL.com reports that total merchandise sales were up 22 percent from 2009 to 2010. To give one Internet example, NHL.com stated that its own site saw an insane 161 percent increase in video “starts” and 56 percent jump in page views.
The great news is that, while the league might not always be lucky enough to get a big market match like Chicago and Philadelphia every year, hockey is making its way back into the collective sports consciousness. The NHL just needs to make sure that it is aware of what is bringing it back into vogue; that is, allowing its stars to shine and giving them a platform to do so.