Five of six most-watched NHL regular-season games in past 37 years are Winter Classics
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.
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
3.74 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.
TOP LOCAL MARKETS FOR 2012 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC
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
–NBC Sports Group–