Sidney Crosby's overtime goal may have left Team USA feeling blue, but the final competition from the Vancouver Olympics was golden for NBC.
The Peacock's presentation of the host nation's 3-2 triumph in the gold medal game averaged 27.6 million, according to Nielsen data, making it the most-watched hockey broadcast in the U.S. since the 32.8 million for the gold medal-clinching USA vs. Finland 1980 game from the Lake Placid Olympics on Feb. 24, 1980. The "Miracle on Ice" USA-Russia semifinal game of that tournament drew 34.2 milion average viewers for ABC on tape delay on Feb 22, 1980.
The 27.6 million viewers for Feb. 28's gold medal game from 3:20 p.m.-6:13 p.m. (ET) was 10.5 million more, or 61% above that the 17.1 million who screened the Canada-USA gold medal game from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
The 15.2/30 rating for the Feb. 28 contest was 42% greater than the 10.7/24 for the 2002 gold medal game, also won by the Canadians. Sunday's thriller was the highest-rated hockey game of any kind since the USA vs. Finland in the 1980 gold medal game (23.2/31). The "Miracle on Ice" semifinal game between the USA and heavily favored Russian skated to marks of 23.9/37.
Nielsen estimated the total viewership for Sunday's USA-Canada contest at 52.9 million viewers, nearly 15 million more than the 2002 gold medal game. It also passed the 51.9 million for the legendary "Miracle On Ice" game, to trail only the 55.6 million total audience for the USA-Finland game from 1980, when the Americans clinched their improbable gold.
The Sunday audience peaked at 34.8 million viewers (18.6/34) from 5:30 p.m. -6 p.m. (ET), when the USA's Zach Parise sent the game to overtime with the tying goal with just 24.4 seconds left in regulation.