ESPN Presentation of NHL FaceOff is Top Season-Opening Doubleheader on Record


ESPN Presentation of NHL FaceOff is Top Season-Opening Doubleheader on Record

  • Ratings up 54 percent over 2019 NHL season-opening doubleheader; Up 19 percent over 2020 season-opening tripleheader
  • Pittsburgh Penguins@ Tampa Bay Lightning ranks as most-viewed Opening Night game on cable on record; Peaked at over one million viewers
  • Exclusive national NHL coverage continues Friday on ESPN+ and Hulu; Next week on ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu

The 2021 NHL FaceOff doubleheader marked the return of the NHL to the ESPN networks for the first time since 2004 and set a new high-water mark as the most-viewed NHL season-opening doubleheader on record.

ESPN’s presentation of the two-game doubleheader featured the Pittsburgh Penguins against the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET) and Seattle Kraken’s franchise debut against the Vegas Golden Knights (10:15 p.m. ET).

Combined, the NHL Faceoff doubleheader on ESPN averaged 884,000 viewers on ESPN over the more than five-hour window, which is up 54 percent over the 2019-20 season-opening doubleheader and up 19 percent over the 2020-21 season-opening tripleheader. It also topped the 2018 season-opening doubleheader by 81 percent. Among viewers 18-49, the doubleheader is up 28 percent vs the 2020-21 season-opening tripleheader, and up 56 percent and 74 percent respectively vs the 2019 and 2018 opening doubleheaders.

The Penguins @ Lightning game generated an average audience of 984,000 viewers and peaked at over 1.1 million viewers. It was ESPN’s top opening night NHL game on record (topping COL-PIT on Oct. 3, 2001) and the second-largest cable audience for any NHL regular season game since the conclusion of ESPN’s previous NHL contract in 2004. ESPN now has 24 of the 25 largest NHL regular season cable audiences on record.

The Kraken @ Golden Knights game generated an average audience of 782,000 viewers, peaking at over 1 million viewers. It marks the most viewed late-window opening night game on record and the second-most viewed regular season NHL game (cable or broadcast) to start after 9 p.m. ET.

Both games were also streamed on ESPN+ and the above viewership figures do not include ESPN+ streaming audiences. 

The NHL on ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu and ABC

Exclusive national NHL coverage continues over the next 10 days on ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu – including the Kraken’s franchise home opener against new rivals Vancouver.

  • Minnesota Wild @ Anaheim Ducks (Fri., Oct. 15, 10 p.m., ESPN+ & Hulu)
  • Colorado Avalanche @ Washington Capitals (Tues., Oct. 19, 7 p.m., ESPN+ & Hulu)
  • New York Islanders @ Chicago Blackhawks (Tues., Oct. 19, 8 p.m., ESPN)
  • Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres (Fri., Oct. 22, 7 p.m., ESPN+ & Hulu)
  • Los Angeles Kings @ Dallas Stars (Fri., Oct. 22, 8:30 p.m., ESPN+ & Hulu)
  • Vancouver Canucks @ Seatle Kraken (Sat., Oct. 23, 10 p.m., ESPN+ & Hulu)

Additionally, ESPN+ is the home for fans to watch NHL every day of the season, with exclusive coverage of more than 1,000 out-of-market NHL games available throughout the season, as well as on-demand replays of all NHL games.

As part of a historic long-term agreement, ESPN, ESPN+, Hulu and ABC will showcase 103 exclusive regular season games throughout the season, including 18 games on ESPN, 10 games on ABC and 75 games on ESPN+ and Hulu.

The NHL’s Stanley Cup Final and Stanley Cup Playoffs action will also return to the ABC and ESPN networks – including exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final in four of the seven years of the deal – beginning with this season. ESPN and ABC will have live, exclusive coverage of one Conference Final series and half of all First Round and Second Round games from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


ESPN / ESPN+ Contacts

Katina Arnold | [email protected] | 860-912-6643

Paul Melvin | [email protected] | 860-877-8369

Danny Chi | [email protected] | 213-405-4400

Kevin Ota | [email protected] | 860-839-7834

Grace Coryell | [email protected] | 213-405-4402

Olivia Wilson | [email protected] | 904-303-3538

Grace Coryell

Based out of the LAPC in Los Angeles, Calif., Grace Coryell is manager of communications focusing on X Games and West Coast PR. A native Angelino, Coryell attended the University of Southern California and began working at ESPN in 2008.
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