Sunday afternoon’s gold medal hockey matchup between USA and Canada scored an average 27.6 million viewers—the most-watched hockey broadcast of any kind since USA and Finland going for the gold in Lake Placid on Feb. 24, 1980 (32.8 million).
Comparably, this beat the 2002 Salt Lake Gold Medal Game (17.1 million) by a massive 10.5 million viewers (or 61 percent). And it outdelivered the majority of key events over the past year, including the 2010 Grammy Awards (25.9 million); 2010 Rose Bowl (24.0 million); 2009 World Series, Game 4 (22.8 million); 2009 NCAA Basketball Championship (17.6 million); the 2009 NBA Finals, Game 4; and 2010 Daytona 500 (16.0 million each).
To put this into perspective, what follows are the most-watched hockey broadcasts of all time:
* USA/Russia – 1980 (Miracle on Ice): 34.2 million
* USA/Finland – 1980 (gold medal): 32.8 million
* USA/Canada – 2010 (gold medal): 27.6 million
* USA/Canada – 2002 (gold medal): 17.1 million
* Unified/USA – 1992 (semifinal): 11.7 million
USA vs. Canada peaked at 5:30 p.m., with 34.8 million viewers as USA’s Zach Parise sent the game into overtime.
The overall competition averaged a 15.2 rating/30 share in households, also the highest-rated hockey game since USA vs. Finland in 1980 (23.2/61).
The matchup, meanwhile, was the most-watched television event in Canadian historically, with an average audience of 16.6 million viewers on the nine television networks within Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium. Almost one-half of the Canadian population watched the entire game on average, while 80 percent of Canadians saw some part of it.