Timo Lumme took the podium at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto to start day three of the Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit and blew the audience away by looking at the effect of hockey at the Olympics through media.
“I’m pleased to report that the Olympic Movement has never been stronger than in 2010,” he began. “There is no other sports event in the world like it. No other event delivers the same emotion. The athletes know the importance, know they’re on the world stage.”
Lumme began by talking about the big picture. There were 235 broadcasters from around the world representing 220 territories broadcasting the 2010 Olympics. In all, there were 32,000 hours of coverage of the Olympics, more than double just four years earlier in Turin.
Now, to hockey. Lumme revealed that hockey accounted for 2,465 hours of worldwide coverage during the Olympics. The gold-medal game between Canada and the United States was, quite simply, the single most watched hockey game in history. More than 114 million people around the world watched Sidney Crosby score in overtime to give Canada home gold.
By comparison, Lumme noted, the worldwide numbers for the 2010 and 2009 Super Bowl were 110 and 106 million, respectively. The most recent UEFA Cup final reached 106 million. In short, Lumme noted, “Olympic hockey is right up there with some of the biggest events in the world.”
The global average for hockey was 28.5 million, meaning that for every minute of hockey, that many people around the world watched NHLers play. In Canada, CTV peaked at 26.5 million people for the gold-medal game. More incredible, the women’s gold-medal game, also between Canada and the United States, peaked at 19 million viewers in Canada. Who says women’s hockey doesn’t need to be saved?
In the U.S., NBC’s coverage was watched by 27.6 million viewers, peaking at 35 million. The gold-medal game in 2002 was watched by half that number, 17.1 million. In 2006, the top American game was watched by 18.4 million, clearly indicating the increase in viewership interest as NHLers continue to play at the Olympics.
Lumme then explained the incredible reach of the Olympics. “What country provided the most hockey coverage in Vancouver?” he asked, knowing everyone would think the answer was Canada. “Italy,” he said. “That nation provided 251 hours of hockey. Canada had 102 hours.” Other examples: Brazil had a TV audience of 1.5 million for hockey, China 4.5 million, Australia 1.6 million. “The appeal for Olympic hockey in non-traditional territory is undeniable,” Lumme said.
“Olympic hockey can deliver a huge audience, especially in non-dedicated places—we have great momentum in the game worldwide. The potential to deliver hockey to traditional and non-traditional fans in the future is vast, and it’s vital for sustained growth around the world moving forward.”