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NHL and NBC Launch Winter Classic Campaign

NEW YORK (December 6, 2010) – The National Hockey League (NHL) and NBC Sports launched the national TV tune-in campaign for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic during the network’s Sunday Night Football broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers versus Baltimore Ravens game last night. Following its debut during the No. 1 primetime show on television, the 30-second commercial featuring Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will continue to run nationally on NBC Universal platforms NBC, USA, CNBC and MSNBC as well as on CBC, VERSUS, RDS, NHL Network™, and via online and social media platforms, through the January 1 broadcast of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Heinz Field at 1 p.m. ET.


This is the third consecutive year that the NHL and NBC Sports have partnered on an NHL Winter Classic campaign. The joint campaign for the 2009 game at Wrigley Field won the first-ever sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Promotional Announcement.


In the commercial, Crosby walks into a sunny Heinz Field and spots Ovechkin on the opposite end. The two superstars and rivals proceed to stare each other down while the day turns into night and the weather conditions worsen from rain to snow, with the football field transforming into a sheet of ice right under their feet. Bob Costas, who will host the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic for NBC Sports, provides the voice over for the campaign.


“This campaign gives fans a glimpse of the fierce competitiveness and rivalry they can expect in the game on New Year’s Day,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President, Marketing. “Two of the game’s biggest stars will battle each other and the elements in front of 68,000 fans at Heinz Field and millions of viewers at home. The magnitude of this game is enormous and we wanted to convey that in the campaign.”


“We take pride in our ability to amass large, broad audiences for our partners by extending our campaigns across the numerous platforms of NBC Universal,” said Mike McCarley, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics SVP, Strategic Marketing, Communications and Promotions. “With December upon us, we felt there was no more appropriate platform to launch this campaign than within the No. 1 primetime show on television.”


The campaign also includes print, radio, online digital banners, in-store POP – including the NHL Powered by Reebok store and the Rockefeller Plaza NBC Experience store, both in New York City – and social media platforms such as NHL® on Facebook and Twitter. Creative was developed by the National Hockey League in consultation with global advertising agency Young & Rubicam.


The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the fourth consecutive season the NHL has played a regular season outdoor game on New Year’s Day, now an annual tradition. The Buffalo Sabres hosted the Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year’s Day in 2008; the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day in 2009; and the Boston Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park this past New Year’s Day. A celebration of the sport of hockey and a return to its roots, the NHL Winter Classic was named the “best new sporting event” of the decade by Forbes magazine.


On game day, fans across the United States can catch all the exciting action by tuning in to NBC Sports’ live broadcast of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 1. Fans across Canada can watch the game live on CBC and RDS. NHL Radio™ and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage and will have extensive pre-event and post-event video coverage.


The three previous NHL Winter Classics have averaged 4.0 million viewers per broadcast on NBC. The 2009 NHL Winter Classic stands as the most-viewed NHL regular-season game since 1975. An average of more than 4.4 million Americans watched the Detroit Red Wings defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 from historic Wrigley Field.


As declared in the Boston Globe following the historic 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park, “now hockey owns New Year’s Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving.”