Big House Winter Classic Equals Ratings Gem for NBC

ratingsWednesday’s NHL Winter Classic between Toronto and Detroit not only set the attendance record for most people to ever watch a hockey game at 105,491 but it tied the most-watched NHL Winter Classic to date.

The Detroit-Toronto match up at Michigan Stadium tied the 2009 Winter Classic between Detroit and Chicago with a 2.9 overnight rating. The 2.9 rating represents the highest-viewed NHL regular season game since NBC started carrying the NHL viewership rights. It was also remarkable because the 2014 edition was the first to mention a Canadian team. But the common thread is if you have an Original Six match up (Detroit included), people will watch.

Despite the high-percentage of Red Wings fans at the game, Detroit still blew the US-media market viewership out of the water in terms of local ratings. Detroit’s 18.0 local rating more than doubled the second highest local rating: Buffalo at 7.2. Buffalo was no surprise with the high rating considering its close proximity to Toronto. Four of the top five and seven of the top 10 markets that had the highest ratings belonged to cities of an NHL team that has previously played in the Winter Classic.

This also helps the NHL, as they will have the NHL Stadium Series beginning this month. They are a series of outdoor games taking place in January and March. The next game will feature Los Angeles and Anaheim at Dodger Stadium with Yankee Stadium in New York hosting two New York Rangers games (each against New Jersey and New York Islanders a few days apart) days later. Following the Olympic break we will see Pittsburgh visit Soldier Field in Chicago to play the Blackhawks and the outdoor games will round out with the Heritage Classic in Vancouver between the Senators and Canucks.






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