Women’s game drives gains for All-Star Weekend

Aside from being the first Weekend to feature a women's game (which helped lift the Skills Comp by 20%), the event also featured unique ad placements.
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Ever since Kendall Coyne Schofield came in a tight second in the fastest skater portion of the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend skills competition, many fans knew it was only a matter of time before women played a bigger role in the event.

The 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend concluded on Saturday night, and Sportsnet has provided viewership results to MiC. 

While views were a mixed bag across the two-night event, there were plenty of important firsts for the hockey weekend, which was broadcast on Sportsnet and CBC. Those firsts included a special three-on-three game of the U.S. versus the Canadian women’s teams, which took place during the Friday night Skills Competition. All of the female players present were members of the PWHPA.

The 2020 Skills Competition surpassed the all-start game itself this year, pulling in an average minute audience of 1.7 million viewers over the three-hour broadcast. According to Sportsnet, this was 20% higher than the 2019 Skills Competition at 1.36 million.

Aside from the women’s three-on-three game (which was won by Team Canada), the Skills Competition also added the new Shooting Stars competition. Players from all seven of Canada’s teams partook in the events, including the Senators’ Anthony Duclair, the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid.

The All-Star tournament itself was down 6% from 2019, resulting in an AMA of 1.6 million (down from 1.7 million).

Overall, the weekend averaged approximately 1.65 million viewers across two three-hour broadcasts, which is up nearly 8% from the previous year.

This year’s All-Star Weekend was also the first of its kind to feature rink boards with dynamic advertising.

While the rink boards remained static in the arena, the TV broadcast saw the deployment of digital replacement technology by the NHL. On television, viewers saw dynamic takeovers of brand logos occupying the entire length of the boards for several seconds, with some animation. Overall, the NHL delivered nine unique feeds of advertiser content, which were specific to different broadcasters (including NBC in the U.S. and Rogers and TVA in Canada, and six independent international markets). Canadian advertisers included Enterprise and Molson Ultra.

A representative from Sportsnet stated that this is not the first time it aired a game featuring dynamic rink boards; the last time it used the technology was during the broadcast of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The NHL has confirmed that it will continue to develop the board technology but it will not be coming back for any games this season or post-season.

Another change brought to this year’s broadcast – which was poorly received by some on social media – was the overlay of player and puck-tracking. Following the game, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the league will continue testing the feature in key games, and that it will be coming to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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