After having read the complaints regarding the Peacock Network's "disastrous" online and live coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics, it seems that Americans and Canadians agreed that the hockey game yesterday was worth watching. In fact, an estimated 27.6 million Americans tuned in to see Zach Parise tie the score late for Team USA, while over half of Canada was watching as CTV averaged 16.6 million people for their broadcast. For America, this marked the largest television audience in 30 years for a hockey. Only the "Miracle On Ice" and the USA-Finland 1980 gold medal games drew more viewers when they attracted a record 34.2 million people and 32.8 million viewers, respectively. Not bad at all for a country where NASCAR, UFC, the Westminster Dog Show, and the PGA have more viewers on a regular Sunday afternoon.
If there is one thing that NBC did very well, from my perspective, is that they routinely showed off British Columbia's sights. From the shots of majestic mountains in and around Whistler to the bustling streets of Vancouver, NBC brought forth some great sights of which Canadians can and should be proud.
Perhaps the best portion of NBC's coverage was not about the sporting events in Vancouver at all, but when Tom Brokaw spoke about Canada in a six-minute piece before the Olympics began. This blog is not going political, but, as a proud Canadian, it was nice to see Brokaw's unbiased and honest take on exactly what Canada is, and how important Canada is to the United States.
The full video can be seen below. Please spend a little time watching this piece.
Canada and the USA have been partners in a number of ventures throughout history. Occasionally, we find ourselves in disagreements over various problems, but, like a good friendship, we always seem to work things out.
Winning a gold medal yesterday does not make Canada better than the United States, in my view. It only makes us better on that day. I received several emails stating how much "better" Canada was than the USA, but that's not the case. We simply won on Sunday. And nothing more.
With the NHL returning this week, I'm certain that we'll see a slight growth in the numbers for the game of hockey. Our friends from south of the 49th parallel have warmed up to the game, and some will undoubtedly give the NHL a chance to win them back. 2005 was a low point in the NHL's history, and the league and game are still working to bring back the fans that it lost.
With the debate about sending players to Sochi, Russia in 2014 in full swing, the NHL needs to focus more on building on the momentum it picked up on Sunday afternoon. The NHL needs to start churning out the marketing about the NHL Playoffs and the stars in the game: Parise, Langenbrunner, and Brodeur from the Devils; Orpik, Crosby, and Fleury from the Penguins; Kesler and Luongo from the Canucks; Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry, and Niedermayer from the Ducks; Doughty, Brown, Johnson and Quick from the Kings; and Kane, Toews, Seabrook, and Keith from the Blackhawks.
All of those players are this generation's rising stars. If NBC wants to continue earning ratings, they need to feature these stars in a massive marketing campaign. It's the best way of having the American public relate to these "unknown" stars that entertained them for three hours on Sunday afternoon. If I'm Gary Bettman, I'm burning the midnight oil getting the images of these players to NBC for every commercial opportunity I can.
Canada and the USA aren't so different when it comes to their love for hockey. The game is marketed better here in Canada because of our familiarity with winter, but there is no reason why these stars can't be marketed in the USA by NBC and the NHL. They were the players who put on that amazing show on Sunday, and the NHL has to capitalize on that.
Get on it, Gary. You have the attention of the Canadians. It's time to capture the attention of the Americans by marketing the players who brought the two countries together to watch your game. And, judging by the Brokaw piece above, it's not like NBC has no talent when it comes to marketing.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!