Television Ratings For Return Of NHL Are Up, Set Records


The opening of the 2020-21 NHL season has drawn record-breaking viewership both in the United States and in Canada.

Locally, last night’s Capitals season opener was NBC Sports Washington’s highest-rated regular season game since the 2018-19 season, and its most-streamed regular-season game on record.

On the national and international front, Wednesday’s opening night of the 2020-21 season saw record viewership in Canada and the United States.

The debut of the first All-Canadian division in NHL history opened with two games on Sportsnet with overall coverage reaching 6.6 million viewers – marking the most-watched NHL Opening Night in Sportsnet history.

The first of 10 games in 2020-21 between Original Six rivals Toronto and Montreal drew 2.1 million viewers on Sportsnet – the most-watched regular-season game ever aired exclusively on the network – and an additional 919,000 on TVA Sports. Combined across the English and French Networks, the game posted 3.057 million viewers (up 83% from last year’s Ottawa/Toronto game).

Wednesday’s Penguins-Flyers NHL season opener averaged a Nielsen-estimated 0.48 rating and 932,000 viewers on NBCSN, marking the league’s most-watched Opening Night game since 2014 (Flyers-Bruins: 956K). Including the streaming audience on NBC Sports’ digital platforms, the game averaged 972,000 — the most ever for an NHL regular season game on NBCSN.

The strong start for the NHL’s shortened season comes less than a month after the NBA opened its shortened season with its most-watched Opening Night in three years. Major League Baseball opened its shortened season last summer with its top Opening Night audience on record, though that was one of the first major team sporting events after the wave of cancellations and postponements last March.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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