One half of Canadians are NHL fans

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One half of Canadians are NHL fans

Montreal Canadiens most popular team

TORONTO OCTOBER 6th, 2014 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1504 Canadians 18 years of age and older, just more than one half (53%) are NHL hockey fans, which may represent as many as 14 million fans across the country. Being a fan is most common to the youngest (60%), males (60%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 58%), in Alberta (62%) and among Conservative voters (59%) and among those with children (58%). Although those who claim Canadian ethnic background are slightly more likely than others to be fans (56%), South Asians and those from the British Isles are also fans (53% and 54%, respectively - caution: very small base sizes).

Most are regular fans, more than a tenth are extreme fans

Hockey fans are most likely to describe themselves as "regular fans who watch some games and know all the rules" (40%) and this may represent close to 6 million viewers. Just more than a quarter are "part time fans who watch a few games and the playoffs" (27%, or about 4 million fans). One fifth describe themselves as "enthusiastic fans who watch many games and know all the players" (19%, or about 3 million fans). Just more than one tenth occupy the most rarefied slot: "extreme fans who watch every game possible and know all the stats" (13%, or about 2 million hockey fans across Canada). Being an extreme fan is commonest to the youngest group (18%), the least wealthy (17%), in Ontario (17%), those with some college or university (20%) and Rogers cable and internet customers (21% each).

Most are fans of Eastern Conference, Atlantic Division

More than a third of the hockey fans in Canada support teams in the Eastern Conference, Atlantic Division (36%), followed by fans of the Western Conference, Pacific Division (25%). The Western Conference and Eastern Conference, Central Division and Metropolitan divisions have about one sixth of the fans (16% each).

The Habs are Canada's team

Close to one quarter of the hockey fans in Canada support the Montreal Canadiens (23%), followed by half this proportion who root either for the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Vancouver Canucks (12% each). After this, no team achieves even double digit support, although the Calgary Flames (7%), Pittsburgh Penguins (6%), Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets (5% each) attract the support of one twentieth or more. Two thirds of Quebec fans support the Habs (64%), one third of Ontario fans support the Leafs (33%), one half those in the prairies support the Jets (50%), one quarter support either the Flames (28%) or the Oilers (23%) in Alberta, and in BC, one half support the Canucks (53%).

Two thirds of all adult Canadians watched 2010 Gold Medal game

Two thirds of all Canadians, not just hockey fans, watched the gold medal game of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and this may represent as many as 17 million viewers. Watching the game was most characteristic of those who are now younger (35 to 44 - 70%), males (67%), the wealthier ($80K to $100K - 74%), in the Atlantic (68%) and in Alberta (69%), among Conservative voters (73%), college or university grads (71%), South Asians and Europeans (66% each - caution: very small base sizes). Anglophones are more likely to have watched (66%) than Francophones (51%). Mothers of children under 18 are especially likely to have been viewers (69%). Three quarters of NHL fans watched (76%) but so did one half of those who claim they are not hockey fans (48%). Oddly enough, extreme fans were less likely to have watched the game (66%) than enthusiastic fans (83%), regular fans (79%) or part time fans (76%).

Vast majority of Canadians think hockey is important to cultural fabric

More than 8-in-10 Canadian adults think hockey is important to our cultural and social fabric (82%), and as many as one half say it is extremely (27%) or very important (25%). Among fans, almost everyone thinks hockey is important to the cultural fabric of the nation (93% important in total, 38% extremely important) while among those who are not fans, more than two thirds think the game important (60%), although fewer than one fifth think it extremely important (14%). Anglophones are slightly more likely to see the importance of hockey (83%) than Francophones (75%). Hockey is seen to be "extremely important" especially in Ontario, Alberta and BC (31% each). Conservative voters are more likely to see the importance of hockey (34% extremely important) than either Liberals (27%) or New Democrats (24%).

One fifth with internet access have subscribed, will subscribe or currently subscribe to Game Centre Live

One fifth of adult Canadians (19%) with internet access subscribe to Game Centre Live now (11%), did so in the past (5%) or will in the future (3%). Being a current subscriber is highest in Alberta (15%), among New Democrats (18%), the youngest (19%), lower income groups ($20K to $40K - 21%), South Asians (29% - caution: very small sample size) and extreme fans (22%).

"Even among those who claim not to be fans, hockey is seen to be an important cultural signifier in this country, and when two thirds of the adult population watches a single game, you know that's true. I don't know if this could be said for baseball, basketball or NFL football in the US, or cricket or Premier League football in the UK," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.