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Ice hockey match equals MSNBC's election coverage numbers

An average of 8.22 million people watched the USA hockey team beat the Canadian hockey team, 5-3, on MSNBC Sunday night - virtually tying the network's best program average ever, which it achieved on Election Night, Nov. 4, 2008 (8.23 million viewers).

We're not sure if this says more about ice hockey or MSNBC's election night coverage. But, anyway, MSNBC is hoping maybe it will calm all those sports columnists, bloggers, and ice-hockey fanboys who thought NBC Universal had done the game wrong by telecasting it on the cable network instead of the NBC broadcast network.

We're dubious, given that MSNBC's record-tying stat was accompanied by word that the crowd watching the broadcast network's ice dancing/bob sledding coverage Sunday night hit 23 million.

"The mere structure of the NBC [Olympics] coverage has left a great deal to be desired this time around, and it came to a head last night when they shuffled the much-anticipated USA-Canada hockey game off to MSNBC, in part to use NBC as a showcase for probably the least anticipated of the figure skating events: ice dancing," complained one blogger, who happened to work for NPR -- but there was plenty more where that came from.

Here's what you need to know: Winter Olympics are the most-female skewing sports events on television. Ice hockey, on the other hand, skews heavily male. Ice hockey loses. Get over it.

Yes, we know, the game was expected to be a humdinger. And NBC did eventually cut away from bobsledding and show us the last 30 seconds of the game which, some might argue, was more cruel than showing nothing at all.

The company had, for days, been arguing its case for putting the game on MSNBC. It argued that putting the game on MSNBC meant it could run there without being sliced and diced into segments to be tossed into a giant salad bowl of Games coverage -- the official Games play pattern of NBC. Being on cable also meant being seen live, coast-to-coast.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 22, 2010; 5:51 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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I had no problem with the game being on MSNBC at all. In this day and age almost everybody gets MSNBC anyway so, what is the big deal.


Since 8.22 million watched last night's hockey game and the highest rated cable program last week only had 6.8 million viewers (NBA All Star Game), this is likely going to be the highest rated cable program for the week. Will this be the first time a hockey game is the highest rated cable program for the week?

Posted by: croftonpost | February 22, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Not picking on you, Lisa, but does anyone ever check the numbers so casually thrown out by PR types?

In fact, as reported at the time, MSNBC averaged 5.89 million viewers for (the 8-11 ET) prime time on election night, 2008.

Here are the hourly MSNBC numbers -- only one of which even begins to approach 8.22 million:

7 p.m.: 4.12 million viewers
8 p.m.: 5.28
9 p.m.: 6.09
10 p.m.: 6.35
11 p.m.: 7.45

So clearly election night could not have "averaged" 8.22 million viewers.

And another source:

Posted by: FredFarrar | February 22, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

NBC coverage in slices and dices of Olympics really leaves much to be desired. Did the guys who hired Conan 5 years earlier also set up this schedule? Please.... and MTP is also screwed up. Something is real wrong on "Rockafella Square"

Posted by: snutty | February 23, 2010 2:36 AM | Report abuse

That number is staggering. Great news for the hockey fans in this country.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | February 23, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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