NHL Gains in Digital Media, Attendance, Retail Sales Highlight Huge Cross-Platform Demand for NHL Hockey In North America And Abroad

The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs are off to a record-breaking start on VERSUS, becoming the highest-rated and most-watched on cable since the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN/ESPN2. Growth on national telecasts across North America and on regional sports networks in the U.S ., along with triple-digit increases to video starts on NHL.com and page views on NHL Mobile, highlight the NHL’s business momentum, further validating of the NHL’s strategy of engaging its fans through the creation of an ever-expanding hockey marketplace with multiple touch points.

The off-ice success has been fueled by compelling play on the ice. The first round series have been incredibly competitive (for the first time since the current playoffs format was adopted in 1987, all eight first-round series were tied 1-1 after two games); have seen more offense (teams are combining to score an average of 5.75 goals per game, a 46% increase over the corresponding period in 2004, the last playoffs year before the adoption of several rule changes designed to limit obstruction); and were pressure packed (each of the first eight games in this year's playoffs was decided by one goal and seven of the 23 games have been decided in overtime).

“This success, which goes far beyond our gains in television, comes on the heels of a record-breaking regular season,” said NHL COO John Collins. “It speaks to the passion of NHL fans and their insatiable appetite for great hockey content. Our strategy of engaging with fans in ways we haven’t before, especially through our digital platforms and big events, is driving growth and attracting new fans. Importantly, corporate America and corporate Canada have taken notice, increasing their investment in the NHL across all platforms.”

“It’s hard to beat the Stanley Cup Playoffs for nonstop action and drama,” said Holly Campbell, Vice President-Creative, Media and Sponsorships for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. “Fans watching the games on television or in person are treated to an awesome display of skill by the best players in the world. We’re pleased to have our brand associated with this kind of exciting family entertainment.”

VERSUS’ first five nights of Conference Quarterfinal round coverage averaged a .6 HH rating and 543,000 viewers making it the highest-rated and most-watched start to the postseason on cable since 2002. The HH rating and average viewership is up 50 percent and 21 percent, respectively, as compared to VERSUS’ first five nights of last year’s postseason (.4 HH rating and 447,000 viewers). Additionally, the start of the 2010 Playoffs is the most-watched among all key male demos on cable since 2002 with each of the demos showing viewership increases over last year: Men 18-34 (up 6%), Men 18-49 (up 8%) and Men 25-54 (up 18%).

This overall success is highlighted by Game 2 of the Montreal/Washington series on Saturday, April 17, which garnered a .9 HH rating and averaged 731,000 viewers making it VERSUS’ highest-rated and most-watched first round game in network history. The game surpassed the previous rating high set by the Pittsburgh/Ottawa series Game 2 the day before (.8 HH rating) and the viewership record set by the Philadelphia/Washington Game 7 on April 22, 2008 (682,000 viewers).

Through its first two playoff broadcasts, the overnight rating average of 1.4 on NBC is even with last year. National ratings and viewership will be available on Thursday.

TSN and CBC are posting “boffo numbers in these playoffs – without Toronto in the hunt,” according to the The Globe & Mail. The Stanley Cup Playoffs on TSN have averaged 992,000 viewers for nine telecasts through April 18, a 112 percent increase over last year to date (467,000 viewers). Meanwhile, CBC is averaging 1,268,000 viewers for its 10 broadcasts through games of April 18, a 33 percent increase over last season (951,000 viewers).

RDS is averaging 451,000 viewers for its 12 telecasts through April 19, up 12 percent over last year (414,000 viewers).


Game 1 of the Chicago-Nashville series on CSN Chicago earned a 5.9 overnight rating, up 24 percent over last year (4.5).
Game 1 of the New Jersey-Philadelphia series on earned a 1.4 overnight rating on MSG Plus, a 100 percent increase over last year (0.7).
Game 1 of the Phoenix-Detroit series earned a 4.1 overnight rating on KTVK, up 116 percent from the last time Phoenix made the playoffs in 2002 (1.9).
Game 2 of the Phoenix-Detroit series generated a 4.7 rating/8 share on FOX Sports Arizona. That rating is second best all-time for the Coyotes on the network and highest since May 4, 1999. The 4.7 rating means that an average of 84,722 Phoenix households watched the game.
Game 1 of the Washington-Montreal series on CSN DC earned a 5.1 overnight rating, a 55 percent increase over last year (3.3).
Game 1 of the Buffalo-Boston series on MSG Network, earned a 12.2 overnight rating, a 53 percent over last year (8.0)
Game 1 of the San Jose-Colorado series on CSN California earned a 4.4 overnight rating up 19 percent over last year (3.7).
Game 2 of the Phoenix-Detroit series earned a 10.1 overnight rating on Fox Sports Detroit, up 5 percent over last year (9.7).
Game 2 of the Washington-Montreal series on CSN DC earned a 4.4 overnight rating, a 132 percent increase over last year (1.9).
Game 2 of the Chicago-Nashville series on CSN Chicago earned a 5.9 overnight rating, up 48 percent over last year (4.0).
Game 3 of the Pittsburgh-Ottawa series on FSN Pittsburgh earned a whopping 21.6 overnight rating, a 20 percent gain over last year (18.0).
The NHL is engaging and connecting with more fans than ever on its digital platforms and the first week of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs has continued that trend. Some highlights from the first week include:

Video starts on NHL.com increased by 140 percent over the first six days of the postseason in 2009
Unique Visitors to NHL.com are up 23 percent over last year (14 percent in the U.S. and 18 percent in Canada)
Page Views on NHL.com are up 42 percent
Mobile page views are up 185 percent
Shop.NHL.com orders are up 37 percent with gross sales increasing by 43 percent compared to last year
Game Center Live Race for the Cup packages are up 24 percent first five days of the postseason in 2009
NHL Mobile page views increased by 185 percent over the first six days of the postseason in 2009

The top NHL markets based on growth of unique visitors to NHL.com through the first week of the Playoffs:

Phoenix (+121 percent)
Buffalo (+100 percent)
Nashville (+ 85 percent
Denver (+74 percent)
Boston (+63 percent)
Chicago (+42 percent)
*Dallas-Ft. Worth (+41 percent)
Ottawa (+41 percent)
Montreal (+34 percent)
Los Angeles (+34 percent)
Philadelphia (+22 percent)
Washington D.C. (+21 percent)
Vancouver (+17 percent)
Tampa-St. Pete (+13 percent)
Pittsburgh (+11 percent)
*Toronto (+10 percent)
*Atlanta (+6 percent)
*Edmonton (+6 percent)

Note: *Team did not make the postseason
U.S. fans in non-NHL markets are also engaging in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as never before. The following markets have all seen year-to-year double digit increases in unique visitors to NHL.com:

Kansas City (+85 percent)
Baltimore (+54 percent)
Seattle (+37 percent)
Rochester, N.Y. (+34 percent)
Richmond (+32 percent)
Portland, Ore. (+28 percent)
Milwaukee (+28 percent)
Salt Lake City (+27%)
Norfolk (+21%)
Cleveland (+19%)

All 23 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs games played through Monday night were sold out. In fact, eight teams managed to squeeze in more fans than their buildings' respective published seating capacities. Averaging 18,720 fans per game, these NHL Playoffs so far are playing to 101.9 percent capacity.
The start of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs drove a record number of downloads of NHL Ice Time 2010, the League's official app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that is distributed outside of North America. As of Sunday, it remains among the top five sports apps sold on iTunes in 17 countries outside of North America. As further evidence of fan interest in the NHL outside North America, for the first six days of the Playoffs unique visitors to NHL.com from Russia have increased by 82 percent, Slovakia by 116 percent and from Finland by 39 percent.


Corporate sponsorship was up 20 percent
New League partners this season include Geico, Starwood Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, LG Electronics and Hershey’s Canada
Ad spending on NHL® media increased by 37 percent over last season
Revenue from big event platforms, led by the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, are up 22 percent over last season
Unique visitors to NHL.com surpassed last year’s record by 32 percent
NHL.com attracted a single-day record 1.6 million unique visitors on Sunday, April 11 – besting last season’s regular season final day by 54 percent
NHL Game Center Live™ subscriptions were up 25 percent
Sales at SHOP.NHL.com were up 12 percent from last year’s record
Viewership for NBC’s Game of the Week telecasts were up 13 percent
Ratings for exclusive telecasts on Versus were up 20 percent
NHL Mobile™ reached 1.6 million page views, an increase of 233 percent over last season

Published on: 2010-04-21

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