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Winter Classic Ratings Up 8% – SportsUntapped.com
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Added January 3rd, 2011 by Chalk

Winter Classic Ratings Up 8%
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There were a lot of winners on New Year’s Night at the NHL’s fourth outdoor Winter Classic. The Capitals dominated their old rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, skating to a 3-1 win, and the league and NBC scored higher ratings than the year before despite a later start time that was only announced a day before the game. Even the city of Pittsburgh felt like it got good publicity despite its team losing its third straight game.

This year’s, Winter Classic played at night and in primetime for the first time, averaged 4.56 million viewers and a 2.8 rating, up 8% from last year’s game between the Flyers and Bruins at Boston’s Fenway Park. NBC also beat ABC, CBS and Fox in the key 18-to-49 demographic. Only the 2009 game between the Red Wings and Blackhawks at Chicago’s Wrigley Field drew more viewers, with a 2.9 rating.

Obviously, Chicago and Wrigley Field are better venues than coal-besmirched Pittsburgh and relatively new Heinz Field, but apparently Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin’s star power was enough to draw viewers to primetime. Given the late switch from 1 PM to 8 PM local time because of Pittsburgh’s lousy weather, it shows that a lot of people were really looking for the game. Hockey could also be filling a New Year’s Day void as college football continues to dilute bowl season and plays most of its best bowls after January 1.

Penguins CEO David Morehouse was pretty happy despite his team’s loss:

In retrospect, if we were able to choose the time — which we weren’t; NBC picked the time — we would have picked prime time. So, in the end, it worked out as the best possible time to stage the game. It was a great thing for the city for the whole week, a lot of attention on Pittsburgh with the HBO series and the Classic. Pittsburgh really shined. I think it’s one of the better events we’ve had in my lifetime in Pittsburgh.

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