NHL begins to strike a $1 billion deal with ESPN and Turner Sports-this is the number of people who watched the season opener

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On October 12, 2021, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodriguez (9) makes a clearance in the NHL hockey game between the Tampa Bay Chargers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tampa Bay Charger Andre Vassey Levsky (88 years old) made a save at the Amalia Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Andrew Burshaw | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

The National Hockey League kicked off the 2021-22 season on Tuesday. This is also the first year of its $1 billion media rights program in collaboration with ESPN and Turner Sports.

These networks stated that the NHL had an average of 884,000 spectators in the ESPN double-headed game on Tuesday, while Turner attracted approximately 669,500 spectators in the national game on Wednesday. Both figures are higher than the NHL’s average of the past two season openers.

ESPN’s first game was the Pittsburgh Penguins defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Chargers 6-2. According to ESPN usage research company Nielsen’s metrics, the game had an average of 984,000 viewers on Tuesday, reaching a peak of over 1 million viewers.

The Disney-owned network added that the 2021 game was among the best in the last high-scoring NHL opener between the Penguins and the Colorado Avalanche in October 2001. The 2001 opener attracted 927,000 spectators.

ESPN also launched an expanded franchise for the Seattle Sea Monsters, which lost 4-3 to the Las Vegas Golden Cavaliers. The average number of viewers for the game is 782,000, and it has reached a peak of over 1 million viewers. The network stated that streaming media metrics from ESPN+ are not included in the ratings statistics.

In comparison, the first game of the NHL 2020-21 season opener had an average of 972,000 spectators on NBC’s sports network. That game featured the Philadelphia Flyers and Penguins, and was the highest-rated regular season on NBCSN.

Other games in the three-game winning streak last season included the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Chargers and the Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues. Comprehensive TV broadcasts had an average of 774,000 viewers, which was higher than the 600,000 viewers in the previous season.

On October 13, 2021, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals shot the ball at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC during the second stage against the New York Rangers.

Patrick Smith | Getty Images

NHL ended its 16-year partnership with NBC Sports and reached a $1 billion package with ESPN and Turner Sports in April last year.

On Wednesday, TNT launched a double-headed national package, which includes some cross-border attractions. The network invited star NBA commentator Charles Barkley on the pre-game show where the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Rangers 5-1. The average total number of spectators for this game was 817,000, reaching a peak of 920,000 between 9:00 pm and 9:15 pm Eastern Time.

In the game, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin scored twice and entered the fifth place in history. The 36-year-old Ovechkin has 732 professional goals and needs 163 to surpass Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894 goals. TNT stated that the average total number of spectators in the second game was 522,000, and the Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 4-2.

In terms of advertising, the indicator company EDO estimates that the automotive category accounted for 15.4% of advertising expenditures in the NHL opener this season. Restaurants accounted for 12.9%, and insurance accounted for 11.9% of advertising expenditures. EDO added that Apple advertising leads search engagement. This is the metric used by the company to measure the brand’s online search activity within a few minutes of the TV commercial.

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