The NHL signed a $ 1 billion deal with ESPN and Turner Sports – here’s how many people watched the season openings

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodrigues (9) takes a break and Tampa Bay Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save during the NHL Hockey game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins on October 12, 2021 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL.

Andrew Bershaw | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

The National Hockey League began its 2021-22 season on Tuesday. It is also the first year of its $ 1 billion media rights package with ESPN and Turner Sports.

The networks said the NHL an average of 884,000 viewers for ESPN’s double head on Tuesday, and Turner drew about 669,500 viewers to his Wednesday national slot. Both numbers are higher than the NHL’s average for the last two season openings.

ESPN’s first game featured the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2. That game averaged 984,000 viewers on Tuesday and topped over one million viewers, according to ESPN, which used metrics from research firm Nielsen.

The Disney-owned networks added that the 2021 competition topped its last high-ranked NHL opener in October 2001 between the Penguins and the Colorado Avalanche. The 2001 opener attracted 927,000 viewers.

ESPN also debuted the Seattle Kraken expansion franchise that fell to the Las Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3. The game averaged 782,000 viewers and also topped over one million viewers. The network said that streaming statistics from ESPN + are not included in viewer statistics.

By comparison, the first game of the NHL’s season opener 2020-21 an average of 972,000 total number of viewers on NBC’s sports network. That contest featured the Philadelphia Flyers and Penguins and was the most watched regular season game on NBCSN.

Other games from last season’s tripleheader included the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Lightning and Avalanche vs. St. Louis. Louis Blues. The combined telecast was on average 774,000 viewers, an increase from 600,000 viewers the season before.

Alex Ovechkin # 8 of the Washington Capitals shoots the puck against the New York Rangers during the second period at the Capital One Arena on October 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Patrick Smith | Getty Images

The NHL ended its 16-year partnership with NBC Sports and reached a $ 1 billion package with ESPN and Turner Sports in April last year.

On Wednesday, TNT launched its national double-headed package and included some appeals. The network featured star NBA commentator Charles Barkley in the Washington Capitals’ 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. The game averaged 817,000 viewers in total and reached a peak of 920,000 viewers around 21:00 to 21:15 ET.

In the competition, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin did twice to move to fifth all-time. Ovechkin, 36, has 732 career goals and needs 163 more to beat Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894 goals. TNT said it averaged 522,000 viewers in total for the second competition with Avalanche beating the Blackhawks, 4-2.

On the advertising front, the measurement company EDO estimated that the car category led with 15.4% of the advertising expenses for the season’s NHL opener. Restaurants accounted for 12.9% and insurance had 11.9% of advertising spending. EDO added Apple advertisements led to search engagement. It is a measure that the company uses to measure online brand search activity in minutes after TV ads are aired.


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