The National Hockey League opened its 95th season with record fan engagement across all measureable platforms, continuing the strong momentum the League has built over the past six seasons.
With the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™ fan festival attracting tens of thousands of fans to The Forks in Winnipeg, international stars leading their NHL® clubs across the Atlantic to open the season in front of sold-out crowds at the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere™ and record-breaking opening-night TV ratings, the 2011-12 NHL season opened on a strong note.
Strong Demand Drives Increased Ratings For Opening Weekend
VERSUS opened its seventh year of NHL coverage with the most-watched regular season game in the network’s history (874,000 viewers) as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 on the night the Bruins raised their first Stanley Cup® banner in 39 years. Viewership was up 20 percent over last year’s opening game (720,000, Flyers-Penguins, Oct. 7, 2010).
CBC’s HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA attracted a record audience before the first puck drop of the season, as its opening-night pre-game show on Thursday drew nearly one million viewers (929,000) — a 66% increase over last season. Then, 1.935 million Canadians watched the classic Game 1 match-up between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs – beating last year’s opening-game mark of 1.923 million.
TSN’s Friday afternoon game between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings from Stockholm, Sweden delivered 213,00 viewers, up 22% from last year’s comparable telecast.
Saturday night’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators was a record-setter for CBC’s HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA, with an average audience of 2.359 million viewers tuning in—nine per cent more than the previous record-holder for the first Saturday game of the season, set last year.
On Sunday, the first Winnipeg Jets home opener since 1996 drew an average total audience of 1.825 million viewers on CBC, and 819,000 on RDS.
In all, 16 million Canadians — representing 47.7% of the total population, according to Nielsen/BBM Canada — watched all or part of a local or national NHL broadcast during Opening Weekend (Thu-Sun).
NHL Network™ provided fans with complementary coverage of Opening Night pre-and post-game from its set in Boston for the first banner-raising in the city in 39 years; on the scene in Winnipeg for 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™, and in Vancouver for the Canucks-Pittsburgh Penguins game at Rogers Arena.
Digital Content Continues to Attract NHL Fans in Record Numbers
The NHL’s digital media focus this season emphasizes improved broadband and mobile product experiences; expanded distribution among mobile, tablet and connected devices and greater penetration within key European countries; and a social media approach that prioritizes social-centric experiences and earned media.
Results from opening week validate the strategy across all digital touch points, including:
· NHL.com experienced 9% more visitors during the first week
(Thur.-Wed.) compared to last year’s record traffic numbers for
same time period, and saw a 57% increase in video starts.
· Buoyed by the excitement surrounding the Winnipeg Jets’
season-opener, NHL.com enjoyed its #9 day all-time for video
starts on Sunday, Oct. 9 (1.9 million), achieving a top-10 figure
despite a light schedule of two games.
· With the launch of six foreign-language sites in key European
nations, international visitors from key countries grew at
double-and triple-digit rates.
· Strong International UV growth among Finland (+82%), Sweden
(+47%), Germany (+40%), Czech Republic (+252%) and Russia (+31%)
during opening weekend (Thur. – Sun.)
· Strong International video start growth among Finland (+198%),
Sweden (+190%), Germany (+132%), Czech Republic (+448%), Russia
(+179%) and Slovakia (+186%) during opening weekend (Thur. – Sun.)
NHL GameCenter LIVE™
NHL GameCenter LIVE was enhanced for 2011-12, emphasizing a refined and more intuitive user interface, more features and functions, and the ability to authenticate multiple devices from a single subscription.
· Subscriptions to NHL GameCenter LIVE increased 105% over the same
period last season.
· Subscriptions recorded on the first day of the regular season were
the highest daily total in NHL GameCenter LIVE history, while the
following Friday and Saturday were the second-and third-highest
ever. The weekly total is more than double the previous high for
a single week.
NHL Mobile and Tablet Apps
· The League’s new carrier-agnostic distribution strategy enables
the NHL to develop and deliver the experience to more carriers and
smartphones, which resulted in a 250-percent increase in app
downloads so far this season
· For both iPad and iPhone, NHL GameCenter™ was the top grossing
sports app in the US, Canada and Russia.
NHL Mobile Web
· NHL Mobile page views saw 63% growth over the start of last
season, led by a 179% increase in mobile page views outside North