Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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Who knew? Perhaps everyone expected the fifth game of the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators would be one worth watching. But who could have predicted it would be the unbelievably thrilling cliffhanger it was, with the Blackhawks coming from behind to tie the game with mere seconds to go in regulation, and then going on to win in overtime. Great stuff. And NBC, which televised the game nationally, got lucky when it chose to broadcast that game just days before it was played.

The game telecast was a hit for the network in Chicago, where it delivered a 7.7 rating -- making it the No. 1-rated program in the market for the entire day. The Blackhawks-Preds game even beat out a new edition of "Saturday Night Live" later that evening. And it should come as no surprise that the telecast scored the highest ratings of any game in the series to date. Now we can only wait and wonder what tonight's sixth game of the series holds in store!?

Sunday afternoon's USA vs. Canada Olympic gold medal hockey game telecast on NBC was the most-watched hockey game in 30 years. Canada's 3-2 overtime victory drew an average viewership of 27.6 million, the most-watched hockey broadcast of any kind since the USA vs. Finland 1980 gold medal game in Lake Placid on Feb. 24, 1980. For historical comparison, the "Miracle on Ice" 1980 Olympic semifinal hockey game between the USA and Russia that aired on tape delay from the Lake Placid Games drew 34.2 million average viewers.

"We've been fortunate to have a front-row seat to observe a nation of fans that appreciates winter sports, is proud of their winter sport heritage and celebrates success -- no matter which country wins," said Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, adding " 'O Canada' will never be the same."

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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