2014 NHL Winter Classic Ties for NBC's Best-Ever Overnight for NHL Regular-Season Game

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

January 2nd, 2014


via press release:


Outdoor Game from “The Big House” Between Maple Leafs and Red Wings Delivers 2.9 Overnight Rating


Yesterday’s Game Ties 2009 Winter Classic for Best Ever & Up 21% vs. 2012 Winter Classic


Detroit Leads all Markets with 18.0 Rating


STAMFORD, CONN. – Jan. 2, 2014 – NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, in which the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout, delivered a 2.9 overnight rating, tying it with the 2009 Winter Classic as NBC’s best-ever overnight for an NHL regular-season game, according to metered market data from The Nielsen Company.


The game, which featured the first Canadian team to compete in a Winter Classic, was played outdoors at Michigan Stadium, a.k.a., “The Big House,” in front of 105,491 fans, making it the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game. The Maple Leafs’ Tyler Bozak scored the decisive goal during a shootout after the teams were tied 2-2 through regulation and overtime. Snow fell for most of the game, which began with a temperature of 13 degrees.


The 2.9 overnight for yesterday’s game tied the overnight rating for the 2009 Winter Classic, which was played at Wrigley Field between the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings and host Chicago Blackhawks. Yesterday’s overnight is up 21 percent from the 2012 iteration of the game, played between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Due to last season’s work stoppage, the 2012 Winter Classic was the last Winter Classic played and generated a 2.4 overnight.


The NHL Winter Classic, which NBC Sports co-created along with the NHL, debuted in 2008. Following are overnight ratings for all six games:


Overnight Date Network Game Venue
1.  2.9 Jan. 1, 2014 NBC Maple Leafs-Red Wings Michigan Stadium
1.  2.9 Jan. 1, 2009 NBC Red Wings-Blackhawks Wrigley Field
3.  2.8 Jan. 1, 2011 NBC Capitals-Penguins Heinz Field
4.  2.6 Jan. 1, 2010 NBC Flyers-Bruins Fenway Park
4.  2.6 Jan. 1, 2008 NBC Penguins-Sabres Ralph Wilson Stadium
6.  2.4 Jan. 2, 2012 NBC Rangers-Flyers Citizens Bank Park


Detroit led all markets with 18.0 rating, followed by Buffalo (7.2), Pittsburgh (7.0), St. Louis (4.4) and Chicago (4.3). Following are the top 10 markets:


Market Rating
1.   Detroit 18.0
2.   Buffalo 7.2
3.   Pittsburgh 7.0
4.   St. Louis 4.4
5.   Chicago 4.3
6.   Boston 4.2
7.   Minneapolis 4.0
8.   Philadelphia 3.9
9.   Providence 3.8
10. Washington, D.C. 3.6



  • Jeff (Canada)

    Detroit = Ratings

  • Rich

    Impressive! Imagine if they played a us team….

    The nhl is trailing more outdoor games this season….hopefully it doesn’t take the shine off the winter classic. The Winter Classic is such a great spectacle!

  • Real

    It was a great game so they deserve it. Definitely one of the best Classics so far (only one I would put ahead of it was Rangers/Flyers but I was at that game so I have some bias there).. But let’s not pretend like this is good news. The ratings are still terrible and they still got destroyed by College Football. The Capital One & Outback Bowls (on at the same time) for sure had more viewers. The Gator Bowl which was also on at the same time probably came close, if it didn’t have more viewers. No question the Rose & Fiesta bowls (which were on later) also had WAY more viewers.

  • January

    @Real…. true, the ratings are not on the same level as any football games, but the fact that the NHL can get these type of ratings while there is something such as the bowl games to watch is impressive… I don’t think the NHL thinks they can get the huge ratings for the winter classic as the bowl games get, but they want people to have a different option besides football and the fact they can get this type of rating is amazing

  • E

    These are great numbers, considering the competition against College Football. One thing I would like to see is for the NHL to schedule the Winter Classic in February after the Super Bowl. It can’t happen in Olympic Years like this year, but, say next year, have the Winter Classic on Sunday, February 8, which would be the week after the Super Bowl. Without the competition from football, I bet this would get at least a 4.0 on the overnight rating.

  • Edward

    Also, this was with a Canadian team……Now is there a whole bunch of Leafs fans in America? NBC has been leery of showing a Canadian team on the network, but after this. I would imagine they will do a Boston/Montreal and I think those two teams would get a higher rating. They do real well in playoff and regular season games for NBC in general. A 2.9 is very good for the NHL. They usually get no higher than 1.5 for a national regular season game if their lucky.

    Is it great compared to College Football? No. but enough where you can build some momentum and roll this thing over. I thought the game looked great on TV. I think if you were channel surfing and came across this game whether you were a fan or not. you probably had to stop and watch a bit. It looked great!

  • Edward

    It will be interesting to see the rating for Chicago/Pittsburgh. This will be a outdoor game, primetime on NBC. You’ve the 2 most exciting teams, along with the biggest stars on both teams: Malkin, Crosby, Toews and Kane. I think it has a chance to pull some damn good ratings for HOCKEY.

  • Torrid

    2.9? .. after all that hype?

    I do recall NHL’ers boasting that the college bowls are gonna be supplanted now by the NHL’s winter classic – reality sucks! much more people watched the bowl games in DETROIT, MICHIGAN – HOME OF THE REDWINGS!!! than the WC :)

  • Matt

    Boston/Montreal would not outrate Detroit/Toronto… And if you’re comparing yourself to football ratings, you’re gonna have a bad time.

  • Matt

    I would seriously hope that Torrid is smart enough to realize that the Detroit market also has access to CBC for their hockey coverage, which means that 18.0 is probably only 75-80% of their actual rating.

    Then again, this guy was enough of an idiot to take people saying it’d outrate the bowl games seriously.

  • Torrid

    Comparing National Ratings – NHL Winter Classic & College Bowl Games:
    Rose Bowl – 11.2
    Fiesta Bowl – 7.1
    Winter Classic – 2.9
    oops! hockey did another stinky! – cannot even compete :)

  • Matt

    If they were trying to compete they would’ve put the game on at 8PM.

    … I’m sure they’re really butthurt that they didn’t outrate a championship game.

    I wonder if you realize how stupid you sound?

  • torrid

    America gave a collective shrug of disinterest to the marquee event of Matt’s favorite sport. That hurts dude!

    Hyped for weeks nay months! – hockey fans salivated at the thought that THIS will be the breakthrough moment when finally hockey grabs America’s attention (Matty, truthfully, didn’t you pee a little from all that anticipation?) – now the hard truth is hitting home again – hockey’s place in my great nation is as a distant ‘also ran’. Nobody the heck cares outside of you guys … that ever elusive casual fan is getting harder and harder to reach.

    By next year NHL will have to try more gimmicks (colored ice with shiny metal sticks and a puck that lights up… anyone?).

    I maintain that the best policy is for the NHL to start paying people to pay attention – what you say Matt? I know you agree :)

  • Matt

    If this discussion is going to consist of me making multiple points and you ignoring all of them because Mommy took your Xbox away and you have nothing better to do than troll on the internet, it’ll be a short lived one.

    … It’s fun when you can tell who has no life. :)

  • torrid

    tut tut tut .. getting a little miffed Matty? lol!

    No discussion here Matty just statements of facts, clearly, Hockey sucks bigtime! and America ignores it and you cannot do a thing about that except pout.

    – how’s that comment making you feel?…. did I hurt your feelings?

  • kb

    Pretty good by NHL standards. It’s always gonna be the #4 pro sport in america but I’m glad it’s improving.

  • Matt

    I’ll bet that bait tastes terrible….

  • Matt

    kb, At the rate baseball is declining, the positions can easily shift.

  • Jeff

    Hey Torrid/numbnuts, few questions for you since your such a fact-loving hockey-isn’t-popular guy:

    1) when is the last time the NBA, MLB or NFL had a 105,491 for a regular season game? Hint: Good

    2) Who has better attendance: pro hockey, pro basketball, or pro football?

    3) How many millions of people attended the Blackhawks parade/rally in both 2010 and 2013?

    4) True or False: NHL minimum salary is $525,000

    Have fun digesting those answers. And go to a hockey game. You’ll have a great time!

  • DenverDean

    The consistency of the Winter Classic proves that in hockey markets, this has become a tradition. It’s great alternative programming to a bunch of meaningless minor bowl games. The fact that the ratings were “high” even without a second US team bodes well. Let’s face it, the NHL has come a long way in terms of television marketing. It is a niche sport that is doing well financially and finally has stability with its franchises.

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