Financial crisis having no impact on NHL

Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:54pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A deepening global economic crisis showed no signs of impacting on the NHL as the league reported record attendance figures on Monday, along with a jump in television ratings and new sponsorship deals.

The NHL said in a news release that it had set an attendance record for October with a per-game average of 17,388, the first time the opening month of the season has surpassed 17,000 fans per game.

The league also set an October record for percent of capacity (94.1 percent), while total attendance for the month was up by 3.1 percent from 2007.

Television viewership was also on the rise in both the United States and Canada.

Ratings in the United States, where games are carried on the Versus network, and in Canada, where games are shown on TSN, jumped 5 percent compared with October last year.

Online traffic has also seen a steady increase with the website experiencing a 7 percent year-on-year increase in unique visitors worldwide.

Despite the gloomy financial climate, the NHL continued to add to its roster of blue-chip corporate marketing partners by signing deals with car maker Honda, Visa and Cisco.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Detroit; Editing by Sonia Oxley)