|The Stanley Cup was a huge attraction for young and old at Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair, which atttracted nearly 30,000 visitors during 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend in Ottawa (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images).
The 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend was a sensational hit with just about anyone who felt its touch in the nation's capital.
But interest in the four-day festivities — held in Ottawa for the first time — broke records across the board in terms of North American television ratings and digital consumption, according to figures released by the National Hockey League.
In the city in which the league's mid-winter celebration was held, all-star fever was best displayed at Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair, which attracted 29,289 visitors to the hockey festival held at the Ottawa Convention Centre. Adding to the celebratory atmosphere in the capital were the thousands who attended a trophy procession on the Rideau Canal last Thursday and, two days later, watched youth hockey players take part in the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills National Championship.
Both the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition and the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game played before crowds in excess of 20,500 at Scotiabank Place.
Across the continent, 17.7 million viewers tuned in to all or part of NHL All-Star Weekend events, including the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Player Draft held at the Hilton Lac Leamy last Thursday night. Those events were televised on CBC, TSN and RDS in Canada, and by the NBC Sports Network in the United States.
In Canada, CBC recorded its highest viewership for the NHL All-Star Game and skills competition since the current system of audience measurement was instituted in 1989-90. In all, 10.2 million viewers tuned into at least some part of CBC's coverage, representing 30 per cent of the Canadian population. Meanwhile, the player draft attracted 1.34 million viewers on TSN and another 254,000 on RDS. A total of 3.7 million unique viewers saw at least part of the telecast.
The all-star game itself attracted an average audience of 2.461 million viewers, topping the previous mark of 2.389 million for the 2011 contest in Raleigh, N.C. CBC also reported more than 7.3 million Canadians witnessed at least part of the game in Ottawa, while more than 6.9 million saw at least a portion of the skills competition.
South of the border, NBC Sports Network attracted an average audience of 1.3 million for the all-star game and 1.1 million for the skills competition — the second-highest numbers recorded for both events in the U.S. since 2004.
NHL.com also shattered records for video starts over the weekend. Its numbers for the skills competition were up 600,000 over last year, while all-star Sunday video starts grew by a whopping one million. Total video starts for those two events, along with the player draft, rose by 22 per cent over 2011.
On the mobile platform, page views were up 48 per cent year-over-year for Sunday's all-star game, and rose 46 per cent for the three all-star events. NHL's The Hardest Shot was the No. 1 paid app in the iTunes Store in Canada over the weekend.