Gold-medal game most-watched on TV ever

March 1, 2010, 10:24 PM

Canada’s 3-2 overtime win over the U.S. in Sunday’s gold-medal Olympic men’s hockey game has become the most-watched television broadcast in Canadian history, with nearly half of the country’s population watching the entire contest.

Some 26.5 million, roughly 80 per cent of Canadians, tuned in for part of the final at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver, with an average audience of 16.6 million viewers, setting the record. The audience peaked at 22 million — or two thirds of the nation — when Sidney Crosby scored in the extra frame to ignite a cheer heard across Canada.

The game, which aired live on nine television networks in eight languages, captured an 85 share, meaning 85 per cent of Canadians watching television at the time were watching the gold medal match.

Meanwhile, the closing ceremony averaged 14.3 million viewers, now the second-most watched TV program ever in Canada, with 24.5 million watching some part of the broadcast.

South of the border, NBC said the hockey final was the most-watched hockey game in the U.S. in 30 years.

The NBC broadcast drew an average viewership of 27.6 million, the biggest hockey number since the U.S. versus Finland 1980 gold medal game in Lake Placid (32.8 million). It got a 17.6 overnight rating, about four times what the NASCAR race on Sunday did. It was the second-highest rated non-NFL sporting event of the year in the States, behind only the Texas/Alabama BCS National Championship game in January (18.2).

With files from THE CANADIAN PRESS

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