Ratings for last week’s second Winter Classic NBC were up 12 percent from a year ago, which might soon prompt the National Hockey League to officially announce that the outdoor game will become an annual event.
With a 2.9 rating and 6 share during the afternoon on a holiday – andwhen airing against major college bowl games – the NHL would be wise to keep this game going. Year one in Buffalo was great as far as the game and the atmostphere, and while year two in Chicago lost a bit in terms of ambiance (Wrigley didn’t seem very well suited for the game) the high scoring 6-4 affair still made for good viewing.
Seeing as the NHL is unlikely to put the Winter Classic in Canada (NBC can’t draw ratings from Canada, so a Canadian team probably won’t even be considered as the road opponent), that does cap the potential host sites. Aside from making the first two road teams hosts (Pittsburgh and Detroit), the new Yankee Stadium in new York might make for a good site, as would Gillette Stadium near Boston (Fenway park would be horrible for hockey), any number of sites in Philadelphia and even one of the outdoor stadiums in Denver.
The NHL could easily get an eight- or 10-city rotation going, ensuring that the game wouldn’t suffer from diluted interest in any market yet that every northern city that would care about the game could see it. No city with an NHL team would refuse to host the game, either. C’mon, Gary Bettman, this is an easy decision to make.
Following is the release from NBC:
NHL Winter Classic 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 the Chicago 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