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:
Per NBC Sports, the 2016 Winter Classic earned a 1.6 household rating in the US with 2.775 mil. viewers. Lowest of the 8 Winter Classics.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) January 3, 2016
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.