The final numbers for the NHL’s New Year’s outdoor games are in.
The Centennial Classic, played in the Winter Classic’s traditional spot on Jan. 1, garnered a 0.64 rating and averaged 1.077 million viewers on NBC. That latter number improved as the game did, as the final quarter hour peaked with 1.577 million viewers for the third period rally for the Detroit Red Wings and overtime win for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Obviously, the Centennial Classic is a much different animal than the last outdoor game the Wings and Leafs played: The 2014 Winter Classic at The Big House in Ann Arbor, which had an average of 4.404 million viewers on NBC, the second-biggest audience for a regular-season game in 39 years.
Now, obviously, the NHL’s number for this game was going to be low. NBC gets no ratings benefit from the Toronto market where the game was held. Fans have already seen this matchup before, and in a venue much more compelling than the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic held at A Stadium Not Sponsored By Scotiabank. And, frankly, neither of these teams qualify as must-see at the moment for casual fans, even with Auston Matthews.
This was a birthday gift for the Toronto Maple Leafs, American ratings be damned.
We brought you the 2017 Winter Classic overnights earlier, but the final number for the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues was a 1.54 rating and an average of 2.557 million viewers for the Jan. 2 game – the 10th most-watched NHL regular season game on record; but, in the end, it was the smallest audience for a Winter Classic on NBC. The previous low was last season between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins at 2.8 million viewers, which had a Canadian market as one of the teams.
Keep in mind this is only the second Winter Classic to be played on Jan. 2.
The good news for the NHL is that that game still won its time slot in St. Louis and Chicago. Most interestingly, it set an NHL regular-season record for most unique streams of the game at 84,000.
All in all … maybe just one New Year’s game next season, huh NHL?
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