Steve Lepore of Puck the Media offers a compelling contextualization for the American viewership numbers for yesterday’s gold medal game: You have to go all the way back to Lake Placid 30 years ago to find numbers better than yesterday’s for the NBC broadcast.
“Sunday afternoon’s USA vs. Canada gold medal hockey game, that NBC’s Bob Costas called, “One of the greatest sports events I have ever seen,” was the most-watched hockey game in 30 years. Canada’s epic 3-2 overtime victory (3:20-6:13 p.m. ET) drew an average viewership of 27.6 million, the most watched hockey broadcast of any kind since the USA vs. Finland 1980 gold medal game in Lake Placid on Feb. 24, 1980 (32.8 million). For historical comparison, the “Miracle on Ice” USA-Russia semifinal game that aired on tape delay on Feb 22, 1980 from the Lake Placid Games drew 34.2 million average viewers.
Imagine if NBC had actually branded hockey on its primary outlet during the first 10 days of the Games.