Update: in preliminary metered market data, the game scored a huge 17.6 rating.
There are two questions I have about the ratings for today's gold medal men's hockey game between the United States and Canada.
1.) how will it do versus last week's game that averaged 8.221 million viewers and a 3.4with adults 18-49 on MSNBC?
2.) will there be any meaningful halo effect for viewing of NHL Hockey?
The second question is probably easier to answer. Let's face it, some of the hockey in the Olympics has been just plain great. Sure, the USA scoring six goals on Finland before you'd gotten comfortable in your chair wasn't exactly a close contest, but it was still fun. Last week's USA vs. Canada was one of the most exciting games I've ever seen, thank in no small part to the heroics of USA goalie Ryan Miller.
Still, I am not expecting any meaningful longer term bump for the NHL as a result of these games. Surely an exciting Olympics can't hurt, but I don't think it will help much either.
The ratings are trickier to predict because if either team jumps out to an early 6-0 lead, that will impact the ratings heavily. On the other hand if the game is as close as last Sunday's game very late into the game I expect last week's ratings to be easily eclipsed. Though I won't be surprised if it doesn't surpass the 17.1 million average for the 2002 gold medal game featuring the same teams. Hat tip to ejm in the comments.
Last Sunday's game was the most-watched sports telecast in Canadian history. With another close game, I'd expect that record to be short-lived.