Winter Classic was a television ratings success, too
The immediate reaction from the players, teams and NHL personnel was that Saturday night's Winter Classic at Heinz Field was a success, and the numbers yesterday reinforced the point.
According to preliminary data, NBC averaged 4.56 million viewers and beat CBS, ABC and Fox for the night in the 18-to-49 demographic. The initial 1.8 rating was expected to rise with complete data -- and that's after the game was moved from its original 1 p.m. start time to 8, a decision made the night before because of weather concerns.
"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," Penguins CEO David Morehouse said.
"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 better events we've had in my lifetime in Pittsburgh."
Last year's game between Philadelphia and Boston at Fenway Park earned a 2.6 overnight rating, down from 2.9 for the 2009 game between Detroit and Chicago. The inaugural Winter Classic between the Penguins and Buffalo also drew a 2.6. The previous three games were played during the afternoon.
The nighttime scene was dramatic and made for beautiful television -- from the way the Heinz Field lights reflected off the clouds to the illuminated skyline to the Christmas tree at Point State Park.
"Somebody from one of the clubs was telling me that as they approached the stadium and saw the lights on, it was just a spectacular sight," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the Capitals' 3-1 win. "They got chills down their spine and said it was one of the more amazing things they've been associated with in all their time in hockey."
Whether future games might be scheduled for prime time, Bettman said that wasn't something the league had considered until Friday.
"That's something we'll have to discuss with our network broadcast partners, obviously," he said.
Morehouse said he was especially pleased with how the lead-up events played out, from Friday's alumni game to the youth tournaments and community skating rink.
"I think the community rink was probably the best idea outside of the game itself that we came up with," he said. "It was a great celebration of winter and hockey in Pittsburgh."
Morehouse said he wouldn't mind a Penguins-Capitals matchup becoming a Jan. 1 tradition.
"The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play every Thanksgiving," he said. "It would be nice for us to play every New Year's Day."
Winter Classic 2011src="http://photos.mycapture.com/PITT/1144125/33433895T.jpg" alt="Winter Classic 2011" title="Winter Classic 2011">
The Bridgestone 2011 NHL Winter Classic featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Washington Capitals, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 at Heinz Field.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Minor league report: Other prospects on Penguins’ radar
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Penguins notebook: Memorable night for Pouliot, Trocheck
- Penguins star Crosby talks about his experience with mumps
- With 3 more players possibly affected, Pens’ mumps fight escalates
- Penguins notebook: Players back team doctors in mumps aftermath
- Penguins defenseman Letang having best season in new system
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return
- Mumps confirmed for Penguins’ Bennett; team intern also affected
- Penguins notebook: Zatkoff returns to team as Fleury’s backup