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NHL posts official press release regarding Winter Classic ratings

For what it's worth, from the NHL:

2014 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC® WATCHED BY RECORD 8.2 MILLION VIEWERS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA

More Than 3.5 Million Viewers in Canada Watched CBC’s Coverage of Toronto’s 3-2 Shootout Win Over Detroit, an Event and Network Record

U.S. Broadcast on NBC Attracted Second-Biggest Audience For a Regular-Season NHL Game in 39 Years

NEW YORK (January 3, 2014) – The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® followed its hockey attendance record by re-writing the record book for regular-season North American television viewership as well.

The combined average television viewership for Wednesday afternoon's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on NBC in the U.S., and CBC and RDS in Canada was 8.234 million viewers in North America.  The previous best was 6.6 million average viewers for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, which aired in primetime on NBC, CBC and RDS due to a weather delay.

"We knew an NHL Winter Classic at the Big House with the Red Wings-Maple Leafs rivalry would be special, but what unfolded was extraordinary,” said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. “The players, the fans – and the elements – made for a record-setting afternoon and our partners at NBC, CBC and RDS delivered great coverage and unforgettable images. The magnitude and success of the overall NHL Winter Classic experience in both Detroit and Ann Arbor also underscore the continued growth of the NHL as a North American business."

The 4.404 million viewers for NBC’s broadcast in the U.S. was the second-largest audience for an NHL regular-season game in 39 years. The impressive average U.S. viewership total was achieved despite the fact that only one of the participating teams -- the Detroit Red Wings -- represented a U.S. television market. This marked the first time that a Canadian team has played in the NHL Winter Classic.

The numbers for CBC also were record setting. On average, 3.57 million viewers tuned into the CBC telecast, the largest audience ever for a non-playoff NHL game in Canadian broadcast history. The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® also becomes the largest audience ever for an outdoor NHL game on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada. An additional 260,000 viewers watched the French-language telecast on RDS.

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated their Original Six rivals, the Red Wings, in dramatic fashion at the University of Michigan's "Big House." The Maple Leafs won 3-2 in a shootout before 105,491 fans – the largest crowd ever to see a hockey game.

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Comments

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To put that in perspective the WC lost in total US viewers to ‘The Taste’, which I didn’t even know existed, by around 300,000 households.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/03/14 at 05:34 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

To put that in perspective the WC lost in total US viewers to ‘The Taste’, which I didn’t even know existed, by around 300,000 households.

Apples to oranges.

“The Taste” was on prime-time, and it was its’ season two premiere.

Comparing viewership numbers between a prime-time (8PM) and non-prime-time (1 PM) event is a bit disingenuous.

 

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/03/14 at 05:40 PM ET

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Comparing viewership numbers between a prime-time (8PM) and non-prime-time (1 PM) event is a bit disingenuous.

Hell, I was doing the NHL a favor.  If I lined up the WC against a 1pm Sunday sport over broadcast television… massacre time.

I was describing the relative size of the audiences in question.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/03/14 at 06:07 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Now you want to compare it to something shown an entire day later? LOL

The NHL isn’t trying for NFL numbers, so your comparison makes no sense.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/03/14 at 06:51 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

By the numbers:

The Winter Classic on NBC (1pm game time) had 4.404 million US viewers;

The Outback Bowl, Iowa v. #16LSU in a minor, Non-BCS bowl game, on ESPN (1pm game time) had 5.435 million US viewers.

I could not find the numbers for the Capital One Bowl, #19Wisconsin v. #9South Carolina in a Non-BCS bowl game, broadcast on ABC at 1pm, I’d bet that it too beat the WC.

While 4.404 million viewers is one of the best ever NHL regular season broadcasts, it loses handily to two minor bowl games on at the same time and was trounced by the Rose and Fiesta Bowls (later in the day). Even in SE Michigan, IIRC, the WC had an 18.something rating in the local area while the Rose Bowl had a 27.9 rating in the same area.

I heard a fill-in sports talk guy bashing the WC. He argued that even though the BCS had ruined college football on New Year’s Day, the NHL was foolish to try and compete against even the minor bowl games. He argued they would be better off playing it on Christmas Day and going head-to-head against the NBA. Can’t remember who it was and I disagree.

What I think these WC ratings do prove is that the NHL was correct to exclude Canadian teams from the WC. This WC might have won it’s time slot against the two bowl games if the Rangers, Cawks or Pens had been the opponent.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 01/03/14 at 08:23 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

I don’t think it was ever the NHL’s desire to try and compete with college football. It makes no sense.

I think they feel there is a market for people who do not want to watch college football all day on New Year’s Day, so they went for it. I believe the NHL has done pretty well so far.

They do not want to try for Christmas Day because the NHLPA is against it. So, the NHL is trying to nail down the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving as its day for holiday viewing.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/03/14 at 08:29 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

RW, of course the NHL is trying to compete with College football. The BCS created a vacuum on NYD when it spread the top bowl games out over a week instead of stacking them all up on NYD. The NHL decided to take advantage of that vacuum. I think the WC has been posting respectable numbers against the minor, non-BCS NYD bowls. If they had stuck to their no-Canada policy, this year’s WC would have had the largest rating by a long shot, and maybe even beat the Outback or Capital One bowls. Can you imagine how much bigger the ratings would have been if it had been a re-match of the Wrigley Field WC? It would have at least drawn a 15 HH rating in the Chicagoland market. It would have easily added another million or more viewers. Same for the Rangers or Pens.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 01/03/14 at 08:54 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

I agree with that. An earlier article on here said perhaps the NHL should have a Canadian team at future WCs. But that makes little sense. There is no dire need to boost ratings in Canada, and by having a Canadian team you lose out on an entire potential American market.

I wonder, did the NHL feel they would not have been able to sell out The Big House if it were two American teams? Did they feel they needed Toronto to help put butts in the seat?

I wonder if they would have had 105,000+ if it were Chicago who was in Ann Arbor.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/03/14 at 09:00 PM ET

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Putting Toronto in the game was to pacify Canadian frustration over the wc status. I also think it was to sell tickets. It worked fine and I don’t anticipate it happening again soon.

Posted by timbits on 01/04/14 at 12:32 AM ET

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I don’t think it was ever the NHL’s desire to try and compete with college football.

Then you don’t know what you’re talking about.  The entire flipping point of Bettman’s (stupid, IMO) strategy to drive hockey into large but nontraditional hockey markets was to increase the NHL’s power in the TV contract marketplace… which absolutely means the NHL is trying to compete with NCAAF, and the NFL, and the NBA, and MLB, etc.

That after 15 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses borne by those teams the NHL is at a point where a showcase event gets beaten in total ratings by piece of garbage Thursday night launch TV shows or NCAAF bowl games between teams with absolutely no national cache is a statistical event of note.

Even if it is an orange.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/04/14 at 10:24 AM ET

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There is no dire need to boost ratings in Canada, and by having a Canadian team you lose out on an entire potential American market.

Makes a lot of sense, considering the NHL’s largest TV partner now is… based in Canada.  I’m sure they’ll be just thrilled with the notion of not having any Canadian teams highlighted in those kinds of events.  Will be great for business.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/04/14 at 10:27 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Makes a lot of sense, considering the NHL’s largest TV partner now is… based in Canada.

Which is a huge player in American markets, according to Nielsen. If I had a dime for every time Toronto edged out Chicago when measuring American viewing habits, ...

Never post drunk, you have too much ground to make up the next day wink

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/04/14 at 11:44 AM ET

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I was describing the relative size

He He He. If that’s how you justify it.

or NCAAF bowl games between teams with absolutely no national cache is a statistical event of note.

Just like there are general hockey fans there are general football fans and a lot of them will watch pretty much any football game that is on tv. But then, I seem to recall long ago you not understanding why someone would watch any team other than their favorite team.

I’m sure they’ll be just thrilled with the notion of not having any Canadian teams highlighted in those kinds of events.  Will be great for business.

Because of patriotism? get real. people who love their sport will watch their sport. Even I watch NHL games often that the Wings are not a part of. As a US citizen I’ll even watch two Canadian teams play - even Vancouver against Winnipeg.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 01/04/14 at 09:49 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.