While it may not lead mass entities to go back and tune into the NHL when it returns, people have gathered to tune into hockey during the second week of the Winter Olympics.
4.9 million viewers watched Canada's comeback, overtime victory over Team USA in overtime on Thursday in the gold medal women's hockey game on NBC. Currently the gold medal match in women's hockey stands as the most-watched, non-Stanley cup Final hockey game in the United States since the men's gold medal game in Vancouver. The 2010 gold medal game drew just 2.5 million viewers on MSNBC.
In fact, the USA-Canada showdown was the most-watched gold medal game and women's hockey game since the 2002 gold medal game. There's a bit of a cheat there, however. NBC aired that game from the Salt Lake City Olympics live in primetime.
On Friday, Canada shutdown Team USA 1-0 in the semifinals of the men's tournament. It averaged 3.9 million viewers on NBCSN, which fell just behind the USA-Russia shootout thriller last Saturday that ended up with 4.1 million viewers. However, the game did achieve a higher rating airing on a weekday - USA/Canada drew a 2.7 rating, up one tenth of a point from USA-Russia.
The top 10 local markets were Buffalo (12.1), Minneapolis (8.5), Boston (7.5), Pittsburgh (7.1), Providence (6.9), Chicago (6.2), Detroit (5.8), St. Louis (5.5), Philadelphia (5.3) and New York (5.1). Canada, Russia, and the Czech Republic (1.9 million viewers on USA Wednesday) will likely go down as the three most-watched team USA games at the Olympics.
Streaming numbers have been even better news for NBC. The network proclaimed the following about their online streaming for the men's semifinal.
"Adding to the consumption of the Team USA-Canada semifinal, the “TV Everywhere” authenticated live stream of the game generated more than 2.1 million unique users (2,122,447) – the most unique users ever for any NBC Sports Digital stream, topping NBC’s non-authenticated Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012 (2.105 million uniques). The 2.122 million unique users is believed to be the largest “TV Everywhere” authenticated streaming audience in U.S. history."
The entire tournament has done reasonably well for the networks of NBC. Even the lowest profile of 3 a.m. ET games has drawn somewhat equivalent to the lower rungs of NBCSN games. Like I said, it probably won't mean a huge bump, but with a doubleheader on NBCSN Wednesday, and a primetime NBC game Saturday (not to mention an NBC/NBCSN tripleheader Sunday) it'll be interesting to see if they can capitalize on the momentum.