World Junior Championship Draws Mind-Boggling Record Audience

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The heroics of Jordan Eberle and his gang of under-20s that led to one of the most exciting gold medal games in recent memory drew a record audience for TSN Tuesday night.

The 5.3 million viewers that tuned in to watch Jordan Eberle score 2 goals to tie up the game 5-5 with only minutes left - only to lose the game on a John Carlsson goal in overtime - not only broke World Junior ratings records... not only TSN record all-time ratings... but it was the highest watched Canadian broadcast in almost 5 years.

While this doesn't legitimate the Junior tournament in my eyes any further (more on that later), it certainly shows that Canadians care about their sport, and, in this case specifically, the future of their sport. The numbers has broadcasters salivating with an Olympic hockey tournament just around the corner.

The final minutes of the game and Eberle's heroics drew a whopping 7.5 million viewer peak, which is nearly a quarter of the entire country. Over the course of the entire broadcast, an incredible 12.3 million Canadians watched at least a portion of the broadcast.

Added to the average 3.1 million viewers that tuned in for Team Canada games throughout the tournament, and the people at TSN are smiling all the way to the bank this morning.

A new way of measuring ratings, instituted by Canadian data gathering company BBM, helped improve ratings across the board and calculate the number of viewers more accurately.

Source: National Post>

Poll: Which World Junior player will have the best career?

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As for what I think about the tournament itself, you gotta love the pageantry of the event, the proverbial red carpet that not only TSN, but the entire country rolls out for our prospects. Truly, the World Junior has turned into Canada's version of the NCAA Basketball tournament.

In the grand scheme of things, the tournament means very little. It's not necessarily an accurate portrayal of every country's under-20 talent, as a lot of 1st and second year rookies end up playing in the NHL before they're twenty. Just this year the list of eligible Canadians was ridiculous - Tyler Myers, Steven Stamkos, Matt Duchene, John Tavares, Ryan O'Reilly and others would have all certainly made Team Canada, and you have to imagine that all those additions would have lead Canada to a 6th straight gold medal.

Nevertheless, they weren't there, and as a Canadian I'm not trying to make excuses.

My point is that the this tournament *shouldn't* matter. It's a good breeding ground for future players and a chance for scouts and hockey enthusiasts to see a bunch of good young players. But in the end, a large portion of these kids won't have memorable NHL careers. Half the 2006 Canadian team is currently playing in the NHL, but few (Marc Staal, Jonathan Toews, Cam Barker and David Bolland) are noteworthy. The 2005 roster was remarkable and really an abnormality more than anything, with 13 NHL players on the roster, including 7 who will go to Vancouver next month (and a few others who very well could have... not to mention 7 more who were cut from the team and are now in the league)... but that was a ridiculous year for prospects all across the board.

But I digress... this tournament should mean little to the average Canadian, but the odds that he or she will tune into the gold medal game is nearly 40-60. While that may seem outrageous to an outsider, believe it or not, it's certainly understandable.

It's an exciting tournament full of young players that delivers on the hype. And while I think it's crazy that so many people seem to care about it, I welcome it.

It seems like Canada has found a reason to get crazy, for 10 days at the end of December.

Can TSN top its ratings next year, when Canada will be looking to exact revenge? It's already shaping up to be an even more exciting tournament!

Prax
www.thecheckingline.com
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