Through Three Rounds, NHL’s Doing Alright

NEW YORK (May 27, 2010) – With U.S. television viewership at its highest level in eight years, with attendance soaring beyond 103% of capacity, with digital platforms showing explosive growth and with merchandise sales up significantly, the National Hockey League enters the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks (No. 3 U.S. media market) and the Philadelphia Flyers (No. 4 market) riding a wave of positive momentum in all areas of the business. Consider these highlights:

TELEVISION

  • NBC’s 1.89 million average viewer figure is the most for national broadcast TV in the U.S. through three rounds since 2002 (2.31 million on ABC) and up five percent over last year
  • VERSUS’ 0.9 household rating is their highest three round NHL playoff rating ever and up 29 percent over last year
  • NBC/VERSUS combined three-round average Men 25-54 viewer figure (432,000) is the most since 2000 (471,000 on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
  • The NHL Playoffs on CBC are averaging 1.95 million viewers, a 70 percent increase over last year (1.5 million)
  • The NHL Playoffs on RDS are averaging 765,000 viewers, up 106 percent over last year (372,000 viewers)
  • The NHL Playoffs on TSN averaged 1.1 million viewers, gaining 70 percent over last year (645,000 viewers)

ATTENDANCE

  • During the playoffs teams have played to 102 percent of capacity and, for the first time ever, average playoff attendance will surpass the 19,000 mark (Note: that milestone will be reached at Game 1 of the Final in Chicago)

MERCHANDISE SALES

  • NHL Powered by Reebok Store sales from April 1-May 26 are up 15 percent year over year
  • Shop.NHL.com playoff sales have shown a  31 percent increase over last year
  • In the four Conference Final venues, per capita sales were up 45 percent vs. 2009 and showed a 52 percent total sales increase (equal number of games played). This year’s average per capita sales in Conference Final markets was the highest in 10 years.
  • Total in-venue playoff merchandise sales are up 10.4 percent from last year

DIGITAL PLATFORMS

  • For the first 42 days of the playoffs, video starts on NHL.com are up 151 percent over last year
  • Unique visitors to NHL.com are up 31 percent
  • Page views are up 51 percent
  • Mobile page views are up 185 percent
  • April was the most trafficked month in the history of NHL.com in terms of unique visitors surpassing 17 million
  • NHL.com ranked as the number two site in terms of percentage change in unique visitors from March to April according to comScore.

TV MILESTONES IN THE 2010 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

  • VERSUS’ coverage of the first two rounds of 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the most-watched first two rounds on cable on record with an average of  775,000 viewers for the 54 telecasts (Stanley Cup Playoff cable viewership became available by Nielsen for the 1994 playoffs)
  • NBC and VERSUS have combined for the most-watched first two rounds since 1997 (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2)
  • 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.
  • CBC’s coverage of Game 7 between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins drew an average audience of 4.24 million viewers, ranking as the sixth largest Stanley Cup Playoff audience in CBC history.
  • On French language RDS, the Canadiens-Penguins Game 7 was the most-viewed NHL telecast in the network’s history with 2.69 million viewers.
  • The game also scored on FSN Pittsburgh averaging 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.
  • 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 and was the most-watched program on Canadian television Wednesday night in all key demographics.
  • 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.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NHL’S RECORD-BREAKING BUSINESS SUCCESS IN 2009-10

  • 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
  • NHL.com ad revenue is up 50 percent over last year
  • 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 Game Center Live™ subscriptions were up 25 percent
  • NHL Network subscribers have increased by 104 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

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

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