Winter Classic shoots and scores in ratings

The third annual NHL Winter Classic which featured an outdoor game played at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings drew an 2.9 Nielsen overnight household rating for NBC on New Year’s Day, up 12 percent from the 2007 Classic between Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Here in Chicago, WMAQ-TV notched an 11.8 household rating and 21 share – the highest mark for a Chicago Blackhawks game locally in known memory (Hawks games averaged around a 3.5 rating locally on Fox in 1995 and 1996, the first two years of the network’s contract with the NHL. Remember the glowing puck? Yikes.)

WDIV-TV in Detroit averaged a 10.5 household rating and 20 share, and the third highest-rating came in Buffalo, where WGRZ-TV notched a 10.1 rating and 20 share. The game was also carried in Canada by CBC, and additional viewers in Detroit and Buffalo may have checked the game out on the public broadcaster, given both cities’ proximities to our neighbor to the North.

As for the broadcast, NBC did a great job on covering Thursday’s game, with a professional looking presentation, and good job done by Dave Strader and Eddie Olczyk on calling the game. Wrigley Field looked great and it looked even better in HD. Even the intermission segments were terrific, especially the one where Blackhawk players went out of their way to pay their last respects to Hawks GM Dale Tallon’s late father in the middle of a long road trip last fall. The only thing yours truly didn’t like was the outcome: The Hawks lost 6-4.

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