NBC Press Release on Winter Classic Ratings

NEW YORK — January 3, 2012 – The NHL Winter Classic continues to demonstrate its success as it has now produced five of the six most-watched NHL regular-season games in the past 37 years. Yesterday’s 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers from Citizen’s Bank Park averaged 3.74 million viewers, according to fast national data provided by Nielsen Media Research, making it the fifth-most watched regular-season NHL game since 1975.

Viewership for the game was up two percent compared to the last NHL Winter Classic played in the afternoon, the 2010 contest played on New Year’s Day at Fenway Park between the Boston Bruins and Flyers, which was watched by 3.68 million.

This year’s game was played on Monday, Jan. 2 due to New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday. The previous four Winter Classics were all played on Jan. 1. Yesterday’s game also had a delayed start time of 3 p.m. ET, which was announced the day before the game, due to weather conditions related to player safety. The start time had originally been scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

Last year’s Winter Classic, broadcast on New Year’s Day in primetime from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and featuring two of the NHL’s most popular players in Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), was the most-watched NHL regular-season game in 36 years with 4.5 million viewers.


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

3.74 million Jan. 2, 2012 NBC Rangers-Flyers

3.68 million Jan. 1, 2010 NBC Flyers-Bruins

Yesterday’s game produced a 2.1 rating and 4 share equaling the last Winter Classic played during the afternoon (2010 – 2.1/4). Last year’s primetime game generated a 2.3 rating and 4 share. The rating for this year’s contest built every half hour from 5 pm ET until the conclusion of the game, peaking at a 2.7 for the final segment (6-6:08 p.m. ET).

Philadelphia led all markets with an 11.9/21 rating, almost doubling the 6.0/11 rating the market produced for the 2010 game when the Flyers were the visitors against the Bruins at Fenway Park.

New York posted a 4.3/9 rating, up 65 percent versus the 2.6/6 average for the market for the four previous Winter Classics, none of which involved a New York team.


1. Philadelphia, 11.9/21

2. Buffalo, 7.8/13

3. Boston, 5.1/9

4. Pittsburgh, 4.4/8

T5. New York, 4.3/9

T5. Washington D.C., 4.3/8

7. Providence, 3.8/7

8. Richmond, 3.1/5

9. Baltimore, 2.9/5

10. Minneapolis, 2.7/6


About Steve Lepore
Contact me at stevemlepore@gmail.com

6 Responses to NBC Press Release on Winter Classic Ratings

  1. nosferatu says:

    Based on these local market ratings, I’d guess next year it’ll be the Sabres at the Caps.

  2. Steve says:

    This is not surprising being that Philly was the home team. But being able to get both Philly & NYC news in Lambertville, NJ and experiencing the morning and afternoon radio drives was interesting.

    The local Philly NBC10 featured it every day this week, especially during the weather. Would’ve been interesting to see if the ABC & CBS affiliate did that, but I didn’t see that much on the NYC NBC4 when I flipped back and forth.

    The Philly morning guys on 610AM have two hockey guys, Jones & Morganti. The show gives hockey much respect, not just Boomer being drowned out by Craig Carton on 660AM in NYC.

    Now, this morning, they actually talked mostly about Reid, Lurie’s speech & the Eagles. But they gave a lot of time to the Winter Classic.

    On the afternoon drive, Mike’d Up Francesa gave a “do I really have to talk to Henrik Lundqvist?” speech and then tried to defend it by saying, you say we never talk about hockey? Well, look mom!

    Where did all of this come from? I really think that HBO Doc on the Broad Street Bullies summed it up. Years of futility by the Eagles and Phillies and the Bullies came in at the right time. That spirit still has lasted and the media acknowledges by still giving the Flyers a lot of time, even after 35 years with no Cup.

    The Sixers are ignored there and so were the Phillies until 2007. But even when they’re horrible, the city has always embraced hockey (and football).

    NYC is just over saturated I guess and has been blessed with good football and baseball over the years.

    • TDS says:

      Well, that and Comcast/NBC owns the Flyers, which also helps with the whole media attention thing on the national scale.

  3. E says:

    It just proves New York is a terrible hockey market.

  4. Eddie says:

    I won’t say terrible, but yes maybe it get’s a little too much hype for being a hockey market at times.

  5. Jason says:

    Not terrible more than heavily divided with two other teams in the market. Take away New Jersey and Long Island and the available hockey audience in the NYC market declines quite a bit.

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