Winter Classic Draws 6.6 Million Across the Continent

NEW YORK (January 6, 2011) – Saturday night’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on NBC in the U.S., and CBC and RDS in Canada, was watched by a record average 6.6 million viewers in North America. The previous best was 5.7 million average viewers for the 2009 game at Wrigley Field. The impressive average viewership total was achieved despite the fact that a late weather postponement changed the start time from 1 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET. Because of the postponement, the NHL Winter Classic went head-to-head with games involving eight U.S. NHL teams that attracted an audience of 585,000 viewers on their local RSNs (see below), while CBC’s coverage included regional broadcasts of the Toronto-Ottawa and Calgary-Edmonton games at points during the evening.. There were also 108,023 fans and potential viewers attending the six games in North America on Jan. 1 (not including the NHL Winter Classic).

The NHL Winter Classic drew an average of 1.8 million viewers on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada according to preliminary overnight estimates.. The French-language broadcast of the NHL Winter Classic on RDS in Canada garnered 354,000 viewers, up 10% over last year.

As previously announced, the NHL Winter Classic was the most-viewed NHL regular season game in the U.S. in 36 years with an average of 4.5 million watching in primetime. The 4.5 million viewers represent a 22-percent increase over last year’s game played in Boston’s Fenway Park (3.7 million viewers).

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 NHL Winter Classic in 2008 that featured the Penguins and earned a 17.7 in the market.

Top 10 U.S. NHL Winter Classic Markets:

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

Viewership on U.S. Regional Sports Networks (Jan. 1):

NESN (Boston): 163,202

MSG-B (Buffalo): 148,000

FS-W (L.A.): 28,000

MSG-Plus (N.Y.): 53,000

MSG (NY): 105,000

FS-CR (Raleigh-Durham): 15,919

CSN-CA (SJ/SF/Oak): 40,000

SUN (Tampa/St. Pete): 32,000

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