Thursday, January 03, 2008

Winter Classic popular with the Television audience as well

The numbers in the stands at Ralph Wilson stadium on New Years Day, some 71,000 strong were pretty impressive and for NBC and CBC the television audience that were warm and snug in front of their television sets looked pretty good as well.

Both CBC and NBC are reported to be happy with the ratings report from Tuesday's outdoor classic from Buffalo, with the CBC finding that it was the second most watched hockey event for an afternoon game to air on the network. Tuesday's game attracted 1.170 million viewers on the CBC, second only to the 2.16 million viewers of Wayne Gretzky's final game in April 1999.
And while that's a pretty good number, it didn't come close to the original outdoor shinny festival the Heritage Classic of 2003. That game which was played on a cool and crisp Edmonton evening, attracted 2.747 million viewers to their televisions that day, making it the second highest average audience for a regular season game.

Over at NBC the 2.6 rating and share of 5, was the best overnight for an NHL regular-season game in almost 12 years. Now while that needs to be put in perspective against ABC's monster 9.9 rating and 19 share of the same time slot with their Capital One Bowl game, which featured a tight contest between Michigan and Florida. It Still is a pretty good number for NBC to put forward, especially considering the fact that they don't actually pay any money for broadcasting hockey.

Of course reality may very well come back to the American broadcast industry in two weeks when NBC begins their regular season coverage of the NHL, which last year barely got above a rating of one on broadcast days.

Still, the spectacle of the event has the NHL thinking of making it a more frequent part of the NHL package, while some are suggesting that it be an annual event, the word is that the league is leaning more towards making it a bi-annual event.

The lobbying is already beginning to be name a host city, with Montreal apparently interested in the event, some suggest Ottawa as a natural with the game played on the Rideau Canal and there are those that feel a Central Park game would be the kind of attraction that might even bring out New Yorkers in record numbers.

Of course, an outdoor event is always at the mercy of the weather gods and disaster can lurk with every change of the wind or drop or rise in temperature.

Still, it did provide a pretty interesting afternoon of hockey, attracting some new fans and rewarding some of the longtime faithful.

Providing they don't decide to go to the well too often, it could make for a welcome addition every couple of years to the long regular season.

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