Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, January 02, 2021


I already knew how good a game the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-1 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL Winter Classic outdoor game was, because I watched it. The image of snowflakes falling on the rink couldn’t have been more fitting for this special spectacle.

But that doesn’t mean squat. I watch hockey practically every night. What matters is if anyone else watched the NBC nationally-televised game, after a moderate amount of hype over retrofitting Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson stadium from football to hockey, and with competing college football games on.

Happily enough, the gimmick worked: NBC got a 2.6 national rating, the best numbers for a nationally-televised NHL game in ten years.

That’s not to say that a 2.6 is great:

The numbers would have been better if it did not go up against a close Capital One Bowl between Florida and Michigan, the latter a hockey hotbed. That game did a 9.9 overnight nationally and a 4.5 in New York.

So in the larger scheme of things, the ratings were good when compared to the typically puny viewing audience hockey draws on network TV. Baby steps, basically.

Nothing talks like money, and this kind of exposure will prompt the league to push more bowl games — at least one annually, and perhaps two. I can see this easily get done to death: Columbus versus Pittsburgh at Ohio State’s football stadium, Devils versus Rangers in Giants Stadium (with the Devils as home team, since it’s back in their old Meadowlands stomping grounds), Chicago versus Detroit in Soldier Field, etc. All would be thrilling — but not in rapid-fire succession. Let’s hope there’s some restraint.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/02/2021 10:55:16 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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