Stanley Cup Playoffs Attract Largest Audience Ever; Caps Best Biz Year in NHL History

New York, NY – June 15, 2010 — After a regular season that saw record-breaking business success, propelled in large part by the NHL’s strategy of engaging fans through big events and robust digital offerings, the League built on that momentum with unprecedented success during a Stanley Cup Playoffs that attracted the largest audience across all platforms in the history of the sport.

The landmark playoff run was highlighted by the most-watched NHL game in the U.S. in 36 years; the highest audience for an all-U.S. Final in Canadian television history; the most-watched first two rounds on U.S. cable in history; the most-watched NHL game in TSN’s history; record TV ratings in local markets such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Boston; television and digital growth in non-traditional markets like Memphis, Kansas City, New Orleans and San Diego; another record year for unique visitors; the hottest of all hot markets in Chicago fueling a one-day sales record; in-arena sales for the Final growing by 129 percent; and measurable buzz on platforms like Google and Twitter.

“By whatever method of measurement you want to use — be it ratings, revenues, page views, video starts, sponsor activations or simply the quality of play – the game, the players, the fans, our clubs and our partners teamed up to make 2009-10 a season to remember,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

NHL COO John Collins said, “Our fans once again demonstrated their insatiable appetite for NHL hockey, which they consumed in unprecedented numbers across all of our platforms. These milestones spotlight the power of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and its importance to hockey fans around the world. It’s a fitting cap to a season that saw record-breaking business success for the League.”

Below are business highlights from the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs:


  • On Wednesday, June 9, (Game 6) and the day preceding, five of the top 20 searches on Google were Stanley Cup related.
  • For week one of the Stanley Cup Final search interest for the Stanley Cup Final was up 23 percent over last year.
  • The Stanley Cup ranked as the number one trending topic worldwide on Twitter through the end of Game 6 (June 9).
  • According to the Chicago Sun-Times, The City of Chicago estimated that two million people attended the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade on Friday more than the estimated half-million that watched the White Sox World Series parade in 2005 as well as any victory parade for the Bulls in the 1980’s and 90’s.
  • According to, tickets for the Stanley Cup Final were driving a higher price on the secondary market than for the NBA Finals.


  • Total in-venue sales for Stanley Cup Final were up 92 percent over last year’s Final and gained 129 percent over the first six games of the 2009 Final.
  • Total sales for the entire 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs were up 22 percent.
  • recorded its best single day sales total on June 10, surpassing the previous single day record (Holiday 2009 Cyber Monday) by 25 percent and also eclipsed Penguins (Stanley Cup 2009) by over 50 percent.

“Sales in Chicago have been off the charts,” said Bryan Nosal of JC Penney. “We sold out in many locations within hours. The fan support has been tremendous.”

Jim Pasani of VF Licensed Sports Group, Majestic Athletic said, “Chicago’s commitment to the Cup is like nothing we’ve ever seen and demand for Blackhawks apparel has exceeded our own high expectations. The Blackhawks victory caps off what has been a winning NHL campaign with fans and retailers appetites for NHL merchandise clearly on a strong upswing heading into 2011.”


  • 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).


  • Game 6 between Chicago and Philadelphia averaged 4.077 million viewers, the highest audience ever for an all-U.S. Stanley Cup Final on CBC.
  • Overall, the Stanley Cup Final on CBC averaged 3.107 million viewers, the best in six years and a 44 percent increase over last year.
  • For the entire playoffs, CBC averaged 2.102 million viewers, up 62 percent from 2009.


  • The 2010 Playoffs on VERSUS were the most-watched in network history and the best on cable since 2002.
  • The Conference Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds were the most-watched first two rounds on cable since NHL Playoff viewership became available by Nielsen in the 1993/94 season (54 games, 775,000 viewers).
  • Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 2 was VERSUS’ highest-rated and most-watched telecast ever in network history (3.1 HH rating and 3.6 million viewers) and made VERSUS the most-watched cable network in the country that night.
  • Games 3 & 4 of the Stanley Cup Final averaged 3.369 million viewers, up five percent over the 2009 average (3.212 million viewers), making it the most-watched Final round on cable since 2002.


  • TSN averaged more than 1.11 million viewers for its playoff coverage – 70 percent higher than its average playoff audience last season.
  • TSN’s audience of 2.8 million for the Washington-Montreal Game 7 was the highest audience ever recorded for an NHL game on TSN.
  • Overall, the Montreal-Washington series ranks as the most-watched playoff series ever on TSN (any round) with an average audience of 1.8 million viewers over seven games.


  • The NHL Playoffs on RDS averaged 759,000 viewers for 65 telecasts, up 84 percent from last season.
  • The Canadiens-Penguins Game 7 was the most-viewed NHL telecast in the network’s history with 2.69 million viewers.


  • Video starts on finished up 161 percent over last year for the entire playoffs.
  • The day after Game 6 of the Final recorded the highest number of video starts in history
  • Unique visitors to were up 17 percent over last year’s record number.
  • Page views were up 56 percent.
  • Mobile page views were up 181 percent.
  • For the Stanley Cup Final page views were up 88 percent and video starts 225 percent.
  • April was the most trafficked month in the history of in terms of unique visitors surpassing 17 million.
  • ranked as the number two site in terms of percentage change in unique visitors from March to April according to comScore.
  • The League’s “History Will Be Made” campaign generated 3.2 million video starts on and Club sites, 1.4 million views on YouTube and 5 million views on YouTube for fan-created versions.


  • Game 1 of the Blackhawks-Sharks series on NBC earned an 11.2 rating in Chicago, beating the Cubs, White Sox and Boston-Orlando broadcasts combined.
  • On Thursday April 22, the Blackhawks, with 278,000 viewers in Chicago, prevailed over some tough local competition: Bulls (255,000 viewers, playoff game against Cleveland and LeBron James), NFL Draft (138,000) and the Chicago Cubs vs. NY Mets (137,000 viewers)
  • The Flyers Game 7 victory over the Bruins was the most watched Flyers game in Comcast SportsNet history with an 11.7 rating and 345,000 households, topping the previous record set two days earlier.
  • The Canadiens-Penguins Game 7 on FSN Pittsburgh averaged a 26.4 HH rating, the highest-rated game ever on the network. At one point 43 percent of all households in the Pittsburgh DMA were tuned into FSN.
  • There were three major Boston-area sports events televised on May 7 and Game 4 of the Bruins-Flyers series scored the best numbers, earning an 8.3 local Nielsen rating (328,000 viewers) on Versus in the Boston metered market besting the Yankees-Red Sox matchup on NESN, which earned a 6.3 local rating (223,000 viewers) to finish in second, while Game Three of the Cavaliers-Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals earned a 4.1 local rating (142,000 viewers) on ESPN.

“NHL: National Hot League” — MediaWeek, 4/25/10

“Olympic hockey, playoffs making the NHL cool again…This year the NHL hit the popularity jackpot… The NHL is the hottest it’s been since the pre-lockout days.” — Associated Press, 6/2/10

“It seems hockey is having its day.” — Los Angeles Times, 6/8/10

“It’s been a magical season for the NHL, from the Olympics to the Cup-clinching goal.” —
Toronto Star, 6/10/10

“The game has never been better. It has personality and star appeal. And, for the first time in almost two decades, it has momentum.” — Vancouver Province, 6/11/10

Source: Nielsen Media Research US and Nielsen Media Research Canada / BBM

Updated 06-15-2010

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