SBD/January 22, 2013/Media

CBC Draws Record Viewership For Season Debut Of "HNIC"; Blues, Caps Set Local Records

Maple Leafs-Canadiens' average audience was up 16% from the previous record
The CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada" on Saturday registered more than 3.3 million viewers for its 7:00pm ET broadcast of Maple Leafs-Canadiens, making it the most-watched regular-season Prime East game on the net. The game reached 9.2 million Canadians, or 27% of the population. The average audience was up 16% from the previous record of 2.85 million set on April 7, 2007. In addition, the Saturday afternoon Senators-Jets game had an average audience of nearly 1.5 million viewers, while nearly 1.47 million viewers took in the Ducks-Canucks matchup at 10:00pm. Meanwhile, last night’s Blues-Predators game set a record on FS Midwest, becoming the net's highest-rated regular-season Blues telecast. The game generated a 7.4 local rating in St. Louis, which tops the previous regular-season high of 6.3 rating set March 13, 2012 for Blackhawks-Blues. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic also set a record with a 2.3 local rating for the Capitals-Lightning season-opener on Saturday. That rating is 77% higher than the '11-12 Capitals season-opener and 11% higher than CSN Mid-Atlantic's previous Capitals' opening-night high of a 2.1 rating set in '10 (THE DAILY).

CROSSING BORDERS: In Toronto, Steve Buffery writes the opening attendance numbers and TV ratings were "so high that the ratings probably shocked the NHL and the players." Certain teams are "going to sell-out anyway, most of the Canadian teams especially, but the numbers for NHL games on the opening weekend showed that the situation in the U.S. was probably not as doom and gloom as many predicted when the lockout ended." There still is a "major hunger for the game, even in the U.S., and that’s a feather in the NHL’s cap." The league will "remember this." In future CBA negotiations, both the players and owners will be "perfectly comfortable digging in for another long haul because they know their fans will be there when they get back" (TORONTO SUN, 1/22). SI.com's Stu Hackel wrote Saturday night and hockey "fit together for millions of people." The "misconception that this only holds true in Canada may never be fully comprehended south of the 49th parallel, and even in Canada itself, but it's a fact." The NHL's "growth over the past few decades -- cautious and uneven as it may be -- proves it." It is "one reason the lockout was so senseless." This "isn't a uniquely Canadian experience." While "not as universal for Americans as it is for our northern neighbors, a parallel experience of no small consequence exists in the United States." This has "long been an international sport, Canada's gift to the world, and a sizable -- and a growing -- number of us down here feel exactly as Canadians do about the rituals of watching NHL players and their unmatched athleticism." Among those rituals "is watching on Saturday night" (SI.com, 1/21).
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