Skip navigation
sponsored by 

TV ratings bonanza for Winter Classic

Outdoor game was most watched regular-season game in nearly 11 years

Video
Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller
  Classic Crosby delivers for Pens
Jan. 1: Sidney Crosby made the Winter Classic live up to its name after nailing the game-winning goal.

NBC Sports

Slide show
Image: LeBron James
  Week in Sports Pictures
Ferocious dunks, fiery crashes, fierce fouls and much more.

more photos

Video
  Mad Dog loves Winter Classic
Jan. 2: Christopher Russo raves about NHL's first outdoor game in U.S. between Penguins and Sabres.

NBC Sports

Video: NHL from NBC Sports
Richard Zednik: 'Lucky to be alive'
Feb. 21: After sustaining a gruesome neck injury on the ice, Richard Zednik spoke to the media about how lucky he is to be alive.

updated 5:01 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2008

NEW YORK - More people tuned in on New Year’s Day to see the NHL play outdoors than any other regular-season game in more than a decade.

The Penguins-Sabres game in snowy Buffalo — the first regular-season outdoor NHL game in the United States — drew a 2.6 overnight rating and a 5 share on NBC. Those were the best numbers since a six-game regional telecast on Fox drew a 3.0 overnight rating and a 7 share on Feb. 3, 1996.

Pittsburgh won 2-1 in a shootout on a Sidney Crosby’s score before a crowd of more than 71,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Story continues below ↓
advertisement

The big numbers, in the stands and on TV, came three years after the NHL lockout forced the cancellation of an entire season and after last season’s Stanley Cup finals on NBC drew record-low ratings.

“We’re delighted by the success of this historic event,” NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer said. “The Winter Classic exposed hockey to a larger audience and definitely made new fans of the game.”

The Winter Classic ratings also surpassed Wayne Gretzky’s final game, which was broadcast on Fox on April 18, 1999, and drew a 2.5/6.

The Buffalo and Pittsburgh markets led the ratings, at 38.2/58 and 17.7/30, respectively. But markets such as Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis and Denver also drew strong ratings, even though the game went up against a number of college football bowl games, including an intriguing Capital One Bowl between Florida and Michigan.

“This was one of the best events I’ve ever been a part of as a player, coach or broadcaster,” NBC game analyst Eddie Olczyk said. “It truly was a memorable experience and a great day for the sport of hockey.”

Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, and each ratings point represents about 735,000 households. The rating is the percentage watching a telecast among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into a broadcast among those households with televisions on at the time.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Rate this story LowHigh
 

Sponsored links