Where Were You on February 23, 1975?

If there’s anyone else still nay-saying the Winter Classic, please read the following from CP via NHL.com:

NEW YORK – The Winter Classic drew the biggest American television audience for a regular-season NHL game in nearly 34 years.

The Detroit Red Wings‘ 6-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day attracted an average of 4.4 million U.S. viewers on NBC, the network said Monday.

That’s the most since a Philadelphia FlyersNew York Rangers game on Feb. 23, 1975, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Thank you, and good day to you, whomever you might be.


NBC’s Final Rating For Winter Classic Up 14%

Thanks to Sports Media Watch for this post concerning the “final” ratings for the Winter Classic.  See, the overnight ratings are a compilation of the numbers from the Top 55 American TV Markets.  The final ratings factor in everywhere else.

Via SMW:

The Red Wings’ win over the Blackhawks, which took place at Chicago’s Wrigley Field,drew a 2.5/5 final rating on NBC on New Year’s Day. The 2.5 rating marks a 14% increase over a 2.2 for last year’s Winter Classic between the Penguins and Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The 2.5 rating is the highest for a regular season NHL telecast since at least 1996, and is the fifth-highest rating for any NHL telecast — regular season or playoffs — since the 2004-05 lockout.

Compared to other sports, the 2.5 rating surpasses the regular season averages for the NBA on ABC (2.2)* and MLB on FOX (2.0).

Obviously, the ratings will go down when the NHL goes inside on NBC, but we hope at least some of the folks who tuned in will stick around.  Remember, The NHL On NBC returns one week from Sunday when the Rangers visit the Penguins at 12:30 PM ET.  We’ll have more on NBC’s return next week.

Outdoor Hockey Popular in West Palm Beach, Orlando

Here’s NBC’s official press release hyping the Winter Classic ratings.  Wow, hype for hockey ratings.  Weird.

lassic 2009, broadcast New Year’s Day on NBC from historic Wrigley Field, earned a 2.9 overnight rating and a 6 share (1-4:15 p.m. ET), the best overnight NHL regular season rating in nearly 13 years (Feb. 3, 1996 on Fox, six-game regional, 3.0/7) and a 12 percent increase over last year’s inaugural event (2.6/5, 1-4:45 p.m. ET). The Detroit Red Wings defeated theChicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the second U.S. outdoor game in NHL history.

“Year one was an extraordinary experience. Year two was the establishment of what promises to be a great tradition,” said NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer.

Top 10 Metered Markets:
1. Chicago 11.8/21
2. Detroit 10.5/20
3. Buffalo 10.1/20
4. St. Louis 5.3/10
5. Pittsburgh 4.4/8
6. Denver 4.2/10
7. Providence 3.5/7
8. Indianapolis 3.4/6
9. West Palm Beach 3.3/6
10. Orlando  3.2/5

So there you go.  Let’s expand to Providence and Indianapolis, post-haste!

Your Remaining NHL National TV Schedule

Since it’s the start of 2009, I figured I’d give everyone something to look forward to in the new year.  It’s every network’s remaining telecast schedule.  Things are subject to change, particularly with VERSUS and obviously with NBC, but here’s how things stand for the rest of the season, beginning with the Canadian networks.

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BREAKING NEWS: NBC Draws 2.9, Up 12% From 2008, For Winter Classic


The NHL On NBC drew a 2.9 for its Coverage of the Winter Classic

The NHL On NBC drew a 2.9 for it's Coverage of the Winter Classic



This comes to us from Gene Laverty of Bloomberg:

The game at the home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs was the third annual outdoor contest and had an overnight rating of 2.9, according to Nielsen Media Research. That tops the 2.6 rating for last year’s match in snowy Buffalo, New York, between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins, which had the biggest television audience for an NHL game since 1996.

Ratings points are the percentage of the estimated 111.3 million U.S. households with televisions that watched the broadcast. Preliminary local ratings were 11.8 in Chicago and 10.5 in Detroit, according to Nielsen data.

We predicted a 3.0 for the Classic, so this is certainly good news for the NHL, once again topping some of the highest ratings for any non-Finals/All-Star hockey telecast in decades.

UPDATE: Sports Media Watch points out that the game his the fourth-highest rated telecast in NBC’s three-plus years of hockey.  For all of them, head post-jump.

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Mike Babcock’s Hat Just One of Many Great Things About the Winter Classic in Chicago


Courtesy Abel to Yzerman

Courtesy Abel to Yzerman

Let it be known throughout the land that 2009 was the year we all discovered that, while it couldn’t match the unique spectacle of the inaugural event, the Winter Classic can be a different, equally indelible and, ultimately, supremely entertaining showcase for the National Hockey League every year.  This was the year where the Classic proved it had staying power.

First of all, the presentation the NHL put on was terrific.  I felt the decision to stick with Chicago sports celebrities – Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins – over mainstream Second City/Hollywood talent was a good one.  Everyone among the 40,818 at Wrigley enjoyed it, and most importantly, got into it.  The “Detroit Sucks” chants brought the game a unique look from what seemed to be a divided crowd in Buffalo last time around.

The NBC broadcast was first rate.  You almost wish they would bring it inside for their nine “games of whatever week NBC has open broadcast space”.  The pre-game show, which lasted a surprising half-hour, set the scene perfectly.  Bob Costas truly has a Mike Emrick-ian (as Doc would no doubt say) knowledge for baseball history’s many anecdotes.  He was able to use baseball’s great heritage and a “good enough” grasp of what was going on hockey-wise to give viewers a healthy prep-course for the game.  Remember, a good chunk of today’s viewers have not watched an NHL game on TV yet this year, so giving them something to pay attention to was important. 

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More Hijinks From the NBC PR Dep’t

This has nothing to do with our post earlier and later today, but NBC released it’s press hype for Thursday’s Winter Classic.  You may recall our recent troubles with NBC’s PR department with a press conference transcriber’s misspelling of Sidney Crosby’s name.

Well, this time, it’s just a simple fact-checking or typing mistake, and it’s in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the release:

Bob Costas will host NBC’s coverage from Buffalo

The entire NBC Winter Classic press release is available for you after the jump.

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NBC Won’t Make Your Team Start Before 12 Noon Local Time. If You’re at Home.

One of the details of NBC umpteenth renewal of their NHL profit-sharing agreement that made the curious bystander worry was that NBC was announcing a consistent, Sunday 12:30 PM ET timeslot for all but two of it’s broadcasts.  The 1PM ET Winter Classic and the 2PM ET final day of the season broadcast are the only exceptions.

But, according to this schedule an HF poster put up, they will allow teams in the central time zone to start their games at Noon CT at latest.  Unfortunately, they will not be as flexible for a team in the Mountain/Pacific timezone being allowed to watch later in the day.  We’ll post the schedule after the jump.  Later today, however, we’ll revisit our predictions earlier in the season for NHL/NBC flex games, and see if they’ll still hold with the way the standings have gone.

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Note to NBC Transcriber: S-I-D-N-E-Y

We hope you read our post on the NBC Winter Classic conference call yesterday.  Based on the statistics we got, you didn’t.  Here’s your chance to take a look at the conference call highlights one more time, just to see what we’re getting at by all this.

Did you figure it out?  Didja?  

Well, if you didn’t, the mistake will be bolded and quoted for you after the jump.

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Two Bald Men to Stand Between Benches at Hockey Game on Baseball Field (Plus Actual “Winter Classic” Conference Call Coverage)








No, this isn’t a “Tournament of Announcers” post.  Nor is it a “This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs” t-shirt.  Now, can you honestly tell me that the average hockey fan knows which one is Pierre McGuire and which one is Darren Pang?

Well, NBC is going to give America that challenge this New Year’s Day when they televise “Winter Classic 2: Chicago Bugaloo” live from Wrigley Field at 1PM.  I have nothing against either analyst (though I’m not crazy about Panger and his insistence on not turning his mic off when he has nothing to say) but seriously, NBC, can we please mix it up with someone who’s got a little hair going on?  How about forcing one of them to wear a toupee at the game?  The possibilities are endless.

That said, here are the highlights of NBC’s Winter Classic conference call:

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