Winter Classic Ratings: A Prediction From Your Blogger

Previous Winter Classic Ratings figures:

2008 (PIT vs. BUF): 2.6 overnight rating, 2.2 final rating, 3.7 million viewers
2009 (DET vs. CHI): 2.9 overnight rating, 2.5/5 final rating, 4.4 million viewers

I’ve discussed this with some fellow bloggers lately.  There’s an issue pertaining to this year’s Winter Classic at Fenway that hasn’t been a factor the last couple of seasons.  It’s a daunting question for the NHL, it’s fans and casual sports fans:  Do you care if a bad team is in the Winter Classic?

I’m sure the NHL will point out that the Flyers are only 2 points out of a playoff spot, and this is true, the Flyers could be a very good team at some point this year.  The point is, at the time the Winter Classic will be played at Fenway, they will not be a very good team.  Flyers fans will likely agree with me.

So will it matter?  Maybe, maybe not.  Often horrendous, 6-6 teams are in college football’s meaningless bowl games, and it rarely ever drops the ratings.  Usually, the local markets will tune in if they can be convinced it’s a significant event.  With Philly as the road market, you’d have to wager that a lot of the city’s fairly rabid hockey community will be interested in the event, maybe moreso than either Detroit or Chicago was in 2009.  Remember, in Detroit, the Winter Classic got thoroughly beaten by Michigan State football.

Nationally, is the interest for the Winter Classic going to improve?  Possibly.  ESPN is covering the event, VERSUS is doing a better job to keep it in people’s minds, and Mike Milbury appeared on Sunday Night Football last night.  Advertising on NBC has sold out, and merchandise is flying off the shelves.  So, we go back and forth on this, but our opinion is that Winter Classic ratings will just barely push up.  We’re calling 3.0 overnight rating, 2.6 final rating, and 4.6 million viewers.  That’s our fairly conservative call.  Looking forward to following the numbers.


7 Responses to Winter Classic Ratings: A Prediction From Your Blogger

  1. dyhrdmet says:

    I think the Winter Classic isn’t about the quality of the teams or the game as much as it’s about the spectacle of playing outdoors, in the elements. The thing that made the game in Buffalo so good was the snow during the game. It also happened to be an entertaining game. The game in 2003 was at night, under the lights (which I like that idea a lot, and it makes making a stadium suitable for hockey a bit easier as far as temperature goes) in figid temps, Lambeau Field-like conditions, with the players’ breath and all that, was a great spectacle too.

    Snow may make for a better game to watch (at least on TV). Playing under the lights would be better too, and maybe more viewers.

  2. The Phan says:

    I think the game gets a 3.0 final rating

  3. nash says:

    The only probelm the WC might have is that Penn St is in the bowl game on ABC at the same time. That might hurt Penn viewer numbers i.e. Flyers/Pens fans. If it snows a little it won’t matter……ratings will be great……..

  4. Eric says:

    Just a hunch — interest in local markets, particularly Boston, could push event past 5 million viewers. NHL contact says interest is much higher in Boston than it was even in Chicago.

    One possible stumbling block to 5 million — Penn State plays at 1pm in Outback Bowl — will lower Philly audience.

    Regardless, it should be the highest rated regular season game (in US) since at least 1996.

  5. Al says:


    The reason probably why Michigan State football outrated the NBC station in Detroit last year was with how available CBC is in Detroit via the Windsor station (Red Wings fans can correct me if I missed something). Detroit residents had two broadcasts to choose from while Chicago (Boston and Philly this year) had one, NBC.

    Penn State in a college bowl game may hurt PA’s ratings a little but as others have said Boston should help. Costas on Sunday Night Football said Boston had I think around 350,000 ticket requests for a roughly 35,000 seat Fenway Park.

    • Sam says:

      Your right Al, I live in Michigan and watched last years game on CBC so I would not be counted in NBC’s ratings. Just from talking to people I know more people watch CBC then NBC when there is a choice. This is why Detroit’s NBC rating for the Winter Classic and Stanley Cup Finals don’t tend to be as high as people would think.

  6. nash says:

    Unfortunately, it is going to rain and the Bruins are awful this year for the most part.

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