Only 1980 game surpasses 2010
The ratings numbers reflected the anticipation of the Olympic gold-medal game between Canada and the United States.
Sunday's epic -- won by Canada 3-2 in overtime -- was the most-watched hockey game since the gold-medal game in 1980, when the United States beat Finland after stunning the Soviet Union in the "Miracle on Ice." That gold-medal game drew 32.8 million.
According to NBC, the game drew an average viewership of 27.6 million and a rating of 15.2, a jump of 45.5 percent from the same matchup at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Both gold-medal games were aired midafternoon live.
From 5:30 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET, the audience reached its peak, with 34.8 million glued to the TV.
The game, carried in Canada on nine national networks and in eight languages, became the most-watched television broadcast in Canadian history. An average of 16.6 million Canadians, or about half of the nation's population, tuned in.
And about 80 percent of the population, or 26.5 million people, watched at least part of the game.
Buffalo -- where tournament MVP Ryan Miller plays for the Sabres -- was the top individual market in the United States, with a 32.6 rating. Pittsburgh, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee rounded out the top five.
The celebration continued through the night, with Canadian television reporting an average of 14.3 million catching the closing ceremonies.