On Thursday, we guessed that the 2014 NHL Winter Classic would be the highest rated, most social (and snowiest) regular season game in NHL History. For anyone who watched the game, the “snowiest” prediction quickly became apparent. On Friday, NBC announced the ratings and we certainly were close: The 2.5 rating ties the 2008 NHL Winter Classic, which was played at Wrigley Field, for the most-watched regular season game title.
Ratings weren’t the only records that this year’s game set. With 105,941 fans in attendance at Michigan Stadium, the game set a record for largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game. On the digital front, NBC Sports Live Extra streamed the game across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. The game set digital records as it was the most-watched regular season stream, delivering “52,000 uniques (up 51% vs. the 2012 NHL Winter Classic), 57,000 visits (up 76%), 126,000 live starts (up 49%), and 2.3 million minutes watched (up 71%).”
“Today is yet another milestone in the NHL Winter Classic’s short, but illustrious history. It’s a thrill every year when the viewership for this event continues to validate the vision both NBC Sports and the NHL had when we created it,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports, and one of the co-creators of the event. “We could not be more complimentary of the NHL’s first-class efforts in hosting the game, and we could not be more proud of our production team, which presented an unparalleled broadcast that captured the spirit of the event.”
Part of the record-tying ratings could undoubtedly be attributed to Twitter, where #WinterClassic was trending in the U.S. and Canada, and ratings will likely continue to rise year-over-year, as the Winter Classic becomes ingrained as a New Year’s Day tradition.