Winter Classic ratings disappoint, but College Football rocks

2015 WCDespite close game, the seventh annual edition declines in ratings

Is the NHL Winter Classic losing its luster?

The seventh annual outdoor hockey game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals drew a 2.3 overnight household rating on New Years’ Day, down 21 percent from last year’s classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings, played at the University of Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor in a snowstorm.

Final ratings were even worse, with the Classic scoring a 1.9, down 24 percent from last year. And this despite a close contest, which saw former Hawk Troy Browuer score a last-second goal to win the game for the Capitals.

Locally, WMAQ won the time period with a 11.4 household rating, but was down from the last time the Hawks appeared in the Winter Classic, a 2009 matchup against Detroit at Wrigley Field, which drew an 11.8.

In Washington, the game drew a 5.7 rating for WRC. Both WMAQ and WRC are owned and operated by NBC.

Despite down ratings, the Winter Classic is the highest-rated game so far this season for the NHL and is the seventh-highest rated NHL game on record.

As is has in the past, the Winter Classic went up against New Year’s Day bowl games on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN 2. But this year, the bowl games featured stronger opponents with all three early bowl games featuring popular Big Ten teams. One of those bowl games (the Cotton Bowl featuring Michigan St./Baylor) drew a strong 5.3 household overnight rating for ESPN, a substantial increase from when the game aired on Fox.

2015 Sugar BowlMeanwhile… as part of the first ever College Football playoff, both the Rose Bowl (Oregon/Florida St.) and the Sugar Bowl (Alabama/Ohio State) set cable TV records for viewership with the Rose notching 28.2 million viewers and the Sugar pulling in 28.3 million.

In overnight ratings, both bowls saw significant ratings increases, according to TV Media Insights. The Rose Bowl scored a 15.5 rating, up 38 percent from last year, while the Sugar Bowl pulled a 15.3 – up a whopping 125 percent. Birmingham and Columbus (the respective homes of Alabama and Ohio State) were the top two markets for both bowls.

Second -ranked Oregon and fourth-ranked Ohio State now face each other for the national Championship on January 12 in Arlington, Tex., where another cable TV ratings record is all but guaranteed.