“An NHL ratings bump from the Olympics has never happened before,” said Horizon Media research director Brad Adgate. “They have two different allegiances. The Olympics is event programming: a live sporting event that’s on a global stage with national pride at stake. The NHL hasn’t reached that level yet.”
But NHL games on NBC and NBCSN, which was then called Versus, registered only a small subsequent lift — immediately and years later — from those games. The year before the 2010 Olympics, NHL games on NBC during March and April averaged a 0.7 rating; in the months after the Vancouver Games (in March and April 2010) they averaged a 0.8 rating. NBCSN posted similar numbers: In March and April of 2009, NHL games averaged a 0.1 rating; in March and April of 2010, they averaged a 0.2.
Adgate described those ratings increases as relatively insignificant, and some in the ad buying community expected the bump to be much higher at that time after such a popular gold-medal game.
“The feeling is that if the U.S. Olympic team does well, then the NHL does well,” said Jeremy Carey, U.S. director for Optimum Sports. “But that doesn’t always translate. We’re always hopeful that there’s some impact.”