May 14, 2013, (ISN)  – A record number of Canadians tuned in to CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA last night to watch Game 7 of the thrilling Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Playoffs first round series on CBC.

With more than 5.1 million viewers, the game shattered the previous records for both an opening round game and for any Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game broadcast on CBC-TV since metered measurement began.

“We’re thrilled at how Canadians have overwhelmingly embraced CBC’s coverage and joined the yearly tradition that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada,” said Julie Bristow, executive director, studio and unscripted programming, CBC. “These audience numbers are a reflection of the passion our country has for this great game and we’re excited to continue to fuel the excitement with two star-studded match-ups in the second round.”

The new record comes just one day after a new audience high was set by Sunday’s Game 6 of the Toronto/Boston series, with an average audience of 4.5 million viewers. The previous average audience record for an opening round game on CBC was 3.9 million for Game 6 of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators series on April 18, 2004. Last night’s game also broke the record for a Maple Leafs playoff broadcast on CBC of 4.27 million viewers, which was set by Game 7 of the Toronto vs. Los Angeles Kings Conference Final series on May 29, 1993.

The Toronto/Boston series as a whole set a new record with an average audience of 3.53 million viewers across the seven games making it the most-watched opening round series ever on CBC, surpassing the Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins first round match-up in 2011 which averaged 2.85 million viewers over seven games.

In addition to the average audience, ratings data from the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) show that last night’s game reached more than 12.9 million Canadians, or 40 per cent of the population. The audience for the game peaked at nearly 8.2 million viewers at 10:04 p.m. ET when Boston’s Patrice Bergeron scored the series-winning goal in overtime.

Last night’s Toronto/Boston game was the most-watched game of a very strong opening round overall on CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA that saw an average per-game audience of 2.03 million viewers, up 17 per cent over last season’s first round. The Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens series averaged more than 2.04 million viewers per game, bringing the average audience for series involving Canadian teams to 2.9 million viewers – an increase of 33 per cent over last year’s Canadian team match-ups on CBC.

Online coverage of the first round at CBCSports.ca experienced audience increases in several areas including a 22 per cent increase in average daily unique visitors to the website and an 18 per cent jump in average daily page views, compared to last year’s opening round.

Coverage of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues on CBC-TV and online at CBCSports.ca tonight with Game 1 of the Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Conference Semifinal series at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT). CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA also has coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings series beginning tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).

(Television audience numbers source: NMR Mark II 1993 & 2004, BBM Canada, PPM, Total Canada, Preliminary Overnights, Ind. 2+, 2013)

(Online audience number source: 2013 SiteCatalyst)