Monday, January 4, 2016

NHL Winter Classic Was a Ratings Bust in the U.S.

On paper, it seemed awesome. Two original six teams, bitter rivals and desperately in need of a win. The most storied franchise in hockey visiting the home of one of the most storied football teams in NFL history. But, for whatever reason, fans found other things to watch during Friday's broadcast of the Winter Classic, which aired on NBC.

The telecast garnered only 2.775 million viewers, the lowest number of all eight previously held Winter Classic games:

According to SI's Allan Muir, that number is down 20 percent from last year's game between Washington and Chicago and down 40 percent from the 2014 game between Toronto and Detroit.

But it may not be as terrible as it sounds. The trend is down but the game itself is still a viable entity for the NHL. This, from Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing:

Still, this should all be kept in perspective. A 1.6 rating and 2.78 million U.S. viewers may be bad by the standards of previous Winter Classics, but it’s better than most opening-round playoff games in 2015. That’s especially true for the opening-round games that aired on NBCSN, where the best audience was 971,000. And this is a regular-season game. The Winter Classic blows the rest of the NHL regular season out of the water ratingswise, and it’s better than many of the early playoff rounds.