Your Announcers and Open Thread For an Exciting Blackhawks/Kings Matchup

Chicago vs. Los Angeles, 9:00 PM ET, VERSUS (Note: NHL Overtime will air at Midnight ET)
Play by Play:
Joe Beninati
Color: Eddie Olczyk

Winter Classic Local Quarter-Hour Breakdowns: Pittsburgh Peaked with Over 400,000 Households

From PIFeedback:

Time   WSH DC #HH      PIT #HH


8:00  – 5.5/ 9: 131,000   28.3/42: 329,000

8:15 – 7.0/12: 167,000   31.3/46: 363,000

8:30 – 7.0/12: 167,000   33.6/48: 390,000

8:45 – 6.6/11: 158,000   34.2/48: 397,000

9:00 – 7.0/12: 167,000   30.8/43: 358,000

9:15 – 7.6/13: 182,000   34.9/48: 405,000

9:30 – 8.6/15: 206,000   33.8/48: 392,000

9:45 – 8.3/14: 198,000   32.9/47: 382,000

10:00 – 7.3/13: 174,000   28.8/42: 334,000

10:15 – 8.4/15: 201,000   33.1/48: 384,000

10:30 – 8.9/16: 213,000   32.2/48: 374,000

10:45 – 8.9/16: 213,000   29.7/45: 345,000


WRC- 4 (NBC) WPXI-11 (NBC)


AVG 7.9/14: 188 32.4/47: 376


The NHL, and Puck the Media’s Person of the Year, Add Their Thoughts on Winter Classic Numbers

NEW YORK (January 3, 2011) – Saturday night’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on NBC (8-11 p.m. ET) was the most-viewed NHL regular season game in 36 years with an average of 4.5 million watching in primetime as the Washington Capitals defeated the host Pittsburgh Penguins in front of more than 68,000 at sold out Heinz Field. The 4.5 million viewers represents a 22-percent increase over last year’s game played in Boston’s Fenway Park (3.7 million viewers).


Four of the five most-watched NHL regular season games since 1975 are now NHL Winter Classic broadcasts.


Most-Watched NHL Regular-Season Games Since 1975

· 4.5 million Jan. 1, 2011 NBC Capitals-Penguins


· 4.4 million Jan. 1, 2009 NBC Red Wings-Blackhawks


· 3.8 million Jan. 27, 1996 FOX Six-game regional coverage


· 3.8 million Jan. 1, 2008 NBC Penguins-Sabres


· 3.7 million Jan. 1, 2010 NBC Flyers-Bruins



The 2.3 national rating and 4 share for the NHL Winter Classic achieved a 10 percent increase from last year (2.1/4, 1-4 p.m. ET). The game earned a 32.0/46 in Pittsburgh and a 7.6/13 in Washington D.C. The 32.0 rating in Pittsburgh is up a whopping 81 percent over the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 that featured the Penguins and earned a 17.7 in the market.


The milestone was achieved despite the fact that, due to weather, late on Friday the announced start time of the event was changed from 1 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET resulting in the NHL Winter Classic going head-to-head with eight U.S. hockey markets, including overtime games involving New York, Boston and Buffalo.


“By all measures, this will be the most successful NHL Winter Classic yet,” said NHL COO John Collins. “We are thrilled with the strong viewership and growth on NBC, especially considering the short notice on the time change and the head-to-head hockey competition we ended up facing in eight of our U.S. markets. The impact of the NHL Winter Classic goes well beyond television. The event greatly enhances all of our global businesses, from and NHL Network, to advertising and sponsorship, and of course, the NHL Winter Classic delivered significant economic impact to Pittsburgh.


“The scene in Pittsburgh was simply spectacular – a real celebration of hockey – and the weather will no doubt become part of NHL Winter Classic lore. Each NHL Winter Classic is unique and special in its own way. In Buffalo in 2008, our players showed we can play in the snow and Saturday night the Penguins and Capitals showed we can have a hard-fought and entertaining game in the rain. It was a memorable night as we saw once again why the NHL Winter Classic has quickly earned its place as a New Year’s Day tradition and one of the most anticipated major national sports events of the year.”


The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic also won the night for NBC against the other broadcast networks in the highly-coveted Adults 18-49 demographic. The event earned a 1.8/5 in the demo, besting Fox (1.6/5), CBS (1.2/3) and ABC (0.9/3).


AOL Fanhouse on the event: “The NHL once again knocked it out of the park.” on the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic: “An awesome event…Every outdoor game has been different so far. We’ve seen snow, we’ve seen rain, we’ve been in baseball fields and football fields. I think that’s part of the attractiveness of the event.”


Sidney Crosby on the NHL Winter Classic: “Playing hockey in front of that many people, it’s something that probably none of us ever dreamed of doing. It would have been nice to be on the other side of things, but it’s still a privilege to be part of that. And we had amazing support. The event was great. I think everyone enjoyed it, and obviously we’ve seen year after year, it’s getting bigger and bigger.”


Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau on the NHL Winter Classic: “This is as close to the Stanley Cup as we’ve gotten. We are not denying that it was more than just two points. It was a fabulous game.”


The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic continues the league’s media growth and momentum.

Additional recent television milestones for the NHL include:


· In the 2010 Playoffs, Chicago’s Game 6 Stanley Cup Final-clinching win over Philadelphia on NBC was watched by 8.28 million, making it the most-watched NHL game in the U.S. in 36 years. Overall, NBC’s four broadcasts in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final were the most-watched in the U.S. in 13 years.


· The 2010 Playoffs on VERSUS were the most watched on U.S. cable in eight years. VERSUS this year dropped the puck on its sixth year of NHL coverage with the most-watched opening night game (Flyers at Penguins, 10/8/10) on U.S. cable in eight years and the most-watched NHL regular season cable telecast (Penguins at Flyers, 12/14/10) in VERSUS history.


· All four Winter Classic broadcasts on NBC have been among the most-watched NHL regular season games in history.


NBC Draws Solid Numbers For Winter Classic Highlights

When it rains, it pours seemingly for the NHL, it’s fans and the Winter Classic.

NBC, faced with three hours in daytime to fill after the Winter Classic was rescheduled from 1:00 PM ET to 8:00 PM ET, decided to air highlights of past Winter Classic, segments from Bob Costas and Mike Milbury previewing the game, and interviews. They drew a pretty solid 1.1 overnight rating for their coverage.

To put this into perspective, the 1.1 rating is better than 5 of NBC’s 10 NHL telecasts from the 2009-10 season, and at least four that we can count from the 2008-09 season (we’re looking further into this). The segments did better than NBC’s other sports programming, a celebrity golf challenge, that weekend as well. They weren’t far behind a live, big-name college basketball game (Louisville-Kentucky) on CBS either, as that game drew a 1.1.

So, a suggestion to NBC: How about, when airing the Winter Classic in primetime, an afternoon game featuring two big market teams on the day of the game? Just my two cents after being pleasantly surprised (as I’m sure the network is) by these numbers.

Exclusive: VERSUS will air All-Star Game Fantasy Draft

It was something that had been promoted in a bit of a flash during recent VERSUS games, but a network spokesman confirmed to Puck the Media this afternoon that VERSUS will air the NHL’s All-Star Game Fantasy Draft on Friday, January 28th.

It’ll mark a weekend of coverage, with VERSUS airing the unique fantasy draft on Friday, the Skills Competition on Saturday night, with the All-Star Game airing Sunday afternoon, do to the NFL Pro Bowl taking up primetime. VERSUS debuted a really impressive commercial for the classic featuring NHL players as superheroes during the Winter Classic.

Not 100% on who will be airing the draft in Canada, but I’ve been told by a couple of people that TSN will air the event up north.

NBC Calls ’11 Winter Classic Highest Rated Regular Season Game in 36 Years

NEW YORK – Jan. 2, 2011 – The 2011 NHL Winter Classic, broadcast on New Year’s Day by NBC Sports in primetime due to a weather delay, was the most-watched Winter Classic ever, up 22 percent vs. last year’s game and the most-watched NHL regular-season game in 36 years, according to fast national data provided by Nielsen Media Research. In four years the NHL Winter Classic, which Newsday called “a holiday tradition” and the New York Times said “has stolen New Year’s Day,” has averaged 4.1 million viewers on NBC. Saturday’s game was seen by 4.5 million viewers, up 22 percent vs. last year (3.7 million), and earned a 2.3 national rating and 4 share (8-11 p.m. ET), up 10 percent vs. last year (2.1/4, 1-4 p.m. ET).


Despite changing the start time from 1 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET due to weather, which saw the game to compete against other NHL games involving eight U.S. markets, 4.5 million viewers watched the Capitals defeat the Penguins, 3-1, at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, surpassing the 4.4 million who watched the 2009 Winter Classic that saw the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4, at iconic Wrigley Field as the most-watched NHL regular-season game since Feb. 23, 1975 (5.4 million, Philadelphia-New York Rangers on NBC). The 2011 Classic was also up 22 percent vs. last year’s overtime game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins from iconic Fenway Park (3.7 million).



4.5 million Jan. 1, 2011 NBC Capitals-Penguins

4.4 million Jan. 1, 2009 NBC Red Wings-Blackhawks

3.8 million Jan. 27, 1996 FOX Six-game regional coverage

3.8 million Jan. 1, 2008 NBC Penguins-Sabres

3.7 million Jan. 1, 2010 NBC Flyers-Bruins


The rating peaked at a 2.4/4 in both the 8-8:30 p.m. ET and 8:30-9 p.m. ET half hours.

Pittsburgh led all markets with a 32.0 rating, which is up 81 percent from the 17.7 rating the market posted for the inaugural Winter Classic (2008), in which the Penguins competed against the Sabres in Buffalo in snow globe-like conditions with the winning goal provided by Sidney Crosby in a shootout.


Following are the Top 10 metered markets for the 2010 Winter Classic:


1. Pittsburgh, 32.0/46

2. Washington D.C., 7.6/13

3. Baltimore, 6.6/11

4. Buffalo, 5.3/8

T5. St. Louis, 4.3/7

T5. Denver, 4.3/7

7. Boston, 4.0/7

8. Richmond, 3.8/6

9. Philadelphia, 3.5/6

10. Columbus, 3.4/6


HOCKEY ON NBC: NBC Sports has broadcast some of the most-watched hockey games in recent memory. All four Winter Classics are among the Top 5 most-watched regular-season NHL games in 36 years, including this year’s game which is the most-watched with 4.5 million viewers. NBC Sports’ broadcast of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup on June 9, 2010, was the most-watched NHL game in 36 years with 8.28 million viewers. The Olympic gold medal game between Canada and the United States from Vancouver on February 28, 2010, was the most-watched hockey game in the U.S. in 30 years with 27.6 million viewers.


Winter Classic Review, Part 1: NBC Presents Controlled Chaos

Today and tomorrow at Noon, we’ll be reviewing the TV implications of the Winter Classic. Right here, we’ll review the coverage of the actual game. Tomorrow, we throw out suggestions regarding locations, timeslots, and other surrounding events for the 2012 Winter Classic.

I think I might be swearing myself off Twitter the next time NBC broadcasts the Winter Classic. The natural order of Twitter is that you’ll get a lot of opinion, and a lot of it is hard to not notice without keeping a level head. Between the comments of people I respect and the comments of people I don’t, it becomes difficult to maintain something original, relevant and sincere. Also, I end up yelling at people, and have to explain to my family why I’m typing so angrily. The fact is, you’re going to get some extremes when you’re dealing in social media.

But good lord, are people ever angry about this year’s Winter Classic, one way or another. From the bad ice, to the camera angles, to Washington and Pittsburgh, or Pittsburgh being in a second classic, or Crosby and Ovechkin being hyped. Even the side-switches in the third period were criticized as the league selling out their integrity, despite the NHL having done this in every Winter Classic. There was very little of the event that wasn’t overly dissected. It might as well have been called the Whinter Classic.

To which I respond: Chill out. This is a once a year (okay, now twice a year) event where we take some of the best hockey players on earth and put them in a completely new venue for the sake of drumming up some buzz and event hype about the league. We’re in January, take everything with a grain of salt. Hockey fans take everything so seriously, as if the slightest mistake by a broadcaster is a personal affront to themselves, their families, their religious beliefs, and that band you think is really cool. Lighten up, have a beverage, and enjoy the damned game, or don’t watch it and don’t complain.

That said, as a media critic, I’m now going to complain about a few thing. Have a problem with it? Go start your own media blog where you don’t complain about things. The following aren’t all complaints, just critiques. Some positive, some negative.

1. Better Intermission Entertainment. I am not as annoyed by the Franco Harris/Jerome Bettis shootout that filled up NBC’s second intermission. It was a cute idea, though maybe should’ve been reduced to clip form. The tiebreaker of them throwing a football into a hockey net was … uninspired, but I can’t imagine all of this is on NBC. Overall, the intermission show for this needs to be a little bit more focused on selling the NHL. You’ve already got people watching the game, now sell the sport in general. Let people know what’s going on in the NHL for 2010-11 if they haven’t been watching carefully enough and are using this as their entry point to the season after a Fall of football. Some better “fun” segments could be an actual building of a backyard rink (NBC Universal must own a home improvement show somewhere on all their networks) or a look at the fan atmosphere around Heinz Field.

2. Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk are starting to finally develop as a team. Doc Emrick and John Davidson probably had the best relationship that any two people from diametrically opposed worlds (Rangers/Devils) could hope for. They had chemistry, and a desire to explain the game in a way that didn’t pander. The team of Emrick and Olczyk still hasn’t figured out a way to keep from pandering at times, but they’ve slowly become a solid announcing duo. Eddie O. may not be the world’s biggest name, but I still like him as the spokesman for the game on American TV because he represents what the NHL wants to see: Middle-class American kids who can make it in the sport. Who better to communicate it to them?

3. I still think I like Darren Pang more than Pierre McGuire. For the record, I do not hate either man anywhere near their greatest detractors do. However, I just feel like Pang adapts to that role the best when employed in a three-man booth. McGuire is an opinionated man, as well he should be. He’s smart and has a slightly different opinion and tone from what the typical NHL analyst has. Either find a way to work him into a two-man booth or a one-up, one-down, or hold him to the studio and allow Pang, who seems much more willing to defer to the men upstairs, take that over.

4. Is it wrong that Hockey Day in America sounds really exciting? When Mike Milbury announced that NBC would be hosting a day of hockey from Millenium Park in Chicago, something in me just got really jazzed. I know this had very little to do with the actual game, but I felt I needed to point this out, and also let you know that we’ll be getting more details this week.

5. The camera angles are fine, as long as you have them ready. I don’t mind the blimp cam or the cable cam or whatever fancy shots the NBC folks want to use. This is the NHL’s biggest showcase on TV prior to the playoffs. Let people think that this league can do things no other league can when you put your minds to it. That blimp shot, when it finally settled, was the very definition of cool. That we saw a goal from that distance was nearly mindblowing. However, some of the shots were simply either out of place, not cut away from quickly enough, and at times blacked out. I’m fine with the league pulling out all the toys it wants, just make sure they’re in able hands. Practice makes perfect.

Winter Classic Half-Hour Breakdowns

Note, all these numbers are in the 18-49 demo, as well as total viewers. From TV By the Numbers:

8 – 1.6/5 and 4.35 million viewers
8:30 – 1.9/5 and 4.57 million viewers
9 – 1.7/5 and 4.28 million viewers
9:30 – 1.8/5 and 4.41 million viewers
10 – 1.8/5 and 4.57 million viewers
10:30 – 1.8/5 and 4.58 million viewers