Under the Lights, a Winter Classic Draws its Highest TV Rating Yet

Posted on January 14, 2011

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Will Schaeffer / Sports

On January 1, 2011 at 8:00pm ET the fourth annual Winter Classic was played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. This Winter Classic was especially appealing to the average viewer due to the glamor match up between the Penguins Sidney Crosby and the Capitals Alexander Ovechikin, who are debatably two of the Best players currently in the NHL. Another addition making this Winter Classic even more seemingly special was the fact that it was played at night for the first time ever due to the fact that it was postponed from its original New Year’s Day time of 1:00pm ET due to rain in Pittsburgh, which is very damaging to the ice.

Now although the weather did not exactly create a winter wonderland atmosphere at the start of the game as the temperature was in the low 40’s, there was a certain magic to watching two of the NHL’s biggest stars take the ice under the lights in the NHL’s first outdoor night game. This appeared to be no fluke as this year’s Winter Classic drew the highest television ratings of any Winter Classic thus far, making the question whether the NHL should continue to play the annual New Year’s Day outdoor game at night or revert back to the original time of 1:00pm ET. From this year’s television ratings it says that the game should continued to be played at night, but can the NHL compete with other sports such as NCAA Football or the NFL in the prime time slot and would the ratings be as high without such a glamor match up? These questions can only be answered over time, but from a viewer’s standpoint this year, an outdoor hockey game under the lights seems to be a success.

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Posted in: Sports