Winter Classic TV ratings reach new low

Geoff Burke / USA Today

Thursday's thrilling Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks drew a relatively indifferent response in the world of television ratings.

The game posted a 2.3 overnight rating, which is a 77 percent increase over NBC's average regular-season ratings from last season. But it is also the lowest rating in Winter Classic history.

Year Viewers Rating
2008 3.8 million 2.6
2009 4.4 million 2.9
2010 3.7 million 2.6
2011 4.57 million 2.8
2012 3.74 million 2.4
2014 4.40 million 2.9
2015 -- 2.3

The ratings dip isn't likely to derail any plans for future outdoor games. Thursday's game attracted 42,832 to Nationals Park despite tickets being the most expensive in five years and Winter Classic jerseys continue to sell very well.

But it does suggest outdoor hockey events are not the league-wide draw they once were. Fans could be experiencing outdoor game fatigue after watching last season's Stadium Series, or perhaps they're tired of seeing the same teams play multiple outdoor games. Washington faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2011 Winter Classic, while the Blackhawks have hosted the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series.

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Winter Classic TV ratings reach new low
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