Hockey scoring viewers

Suddenly, everyone loves hockey. And the numbers prove it.Adam Litzinger, director of sales at cbc tv, says the Los Angeles Kings-Toronto Maple Leafs semi-final game shown on the network May 18 - the blue and white lost 3-2 - drew a...

Suddenly, everyone loves hockey. And the numbers prove it.

Adam Litzinger, director of sales at cbc tv, says the Los Angeles Kings-Toronto Maple Leafs semi-final game shown on the network May 18 – the blue and white lost 3-2 – drew a total audience of 3.5 million, a better number than the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup pulls in.

The National Hockey League playoffs are ‘overachieving,’ Litzinger says.

Freda Colbourne, a spokeswoman for Molson Breweries, sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada and owner of the tv rights of all Canadian teams in the nhl, says the exposure and value that the Stanley Cup playoffs – and the ‘huge interest in the Maple Leafs’ – are producing for the brewery’s advertising is tremendous.

However, Colbourne says despite the renewed interest in the national game, advertisers’ media buys were booked long ago – some observers suggest as much as a year – and the same number of tv spots are being shown.

Colbourne says Molson owns Hockey Night in Canada and buys hockey broadcast rights directly from the National Hockey League.

The brewery has another contract with the cbc to broadcast the games and to sell advertising time. The Molson Companies also own the Montreal Canadiens, who have already won a Stanley Cup berth.

A Toronto-Montreal final, of course, would send tv audience numbers soaring.

Colbourne says that because Hockey Night in Canada is a national broadcast, Molson’s national brands are advertised with some regional cutaways for regional brands such as Newfoundland’s Black Horse and Western Canada’s Extra Old Stock.

For Hockey Night in Canada’s French-language equivalent, La Soiree du hockey, Black Ice, Black Label and Export are on tv, Colbourne says.

Although most tv time has long been sold, some spot buys are still available on hockey broadcasts, says Litzinger, who notes advertisers who have already bought time are taking money from elsewhere in their ad budgets to load up on hockey.

Litzinger, who notes the strong playoff performances of the Maple Leafs is helping bump up tv audiences, says cbc does not work from a set rate card but instead uses a ‘demand card.’

This means the national broadcaster can raise ad rates at any time and already has upped them for the Stanley Cup.

Litzinger says a 30-second playoff spot will cost an advertiser between $25,000 and $35,000 depending on the circumstances.DC