ESPN’s 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship coverage, from March 26-April 10, was the network’s most-watched since 2014, averaging 193,000 viewers for games across Nielsen-rated networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU). The tournament – which included a new record for the longest game in NCAA Tournament history with a five-overtime regional thriller – was also up 64 percent from the most recent championship in 2019. The tournament was canceled in 2020. Overall, more than 5.8 million viewers watched the tournament across ESPN’s platforms.
NCAA action culminated Saturday with the Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship Game on ESPN with Massachusetts defeating St. Cloud State 5-0 to secure UMass’s first men’s ice hockey national championship in program history. The matchup on ESPN was up 33 percent from the 2019 final on ESPN2, averaging 435,000 viewers. The top local markets included Boston (2.3), Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.8) and Providence (1.3).
The three-game Men’s Frozen Four (April 8-10) – National Championship and two semifinals on ESPN2, featuring a late third period, game-winning goal and an overtime victory – followed the positive audience trends throughout the tournament and was up a combined 13 percent from 2019, averaging 277,000 viewers. It also marked the second most-viewed Men’s Frozen Four since 2016, reaching a total of 3.7 million viewers.
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