Hockey

Winter Classic draws biggest U.S. audience in 34 years

The Winter Classic on New Year's Day drew an average of 4.4 million U.S. viewers — the largest American audience for a regular-season NHL game in nearly 34 years, NBC said Monday.

The Winter Classic drew the largest American television audience for a regular-season NHL game in nearly 34 years, NBC said Monday.

The Detroit Red Wings' 6-4 win over the Blackhawks at Chicago's Wrigley Field on New Year's Day garnered an average of 4.4 million U.S. viewers throughout the broadcast, according to NBC.

That's the most since a Philadelphia Flyers-New York Rangers game on Feb. 23, 1975, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Monday's news sounded even better than what Nielsen reported on Jan. 3, when the firm announced that the Winter Classic drew an overnight rating of 2.9 and a 6.0 share, numbers that were the NHL's best in almost 13 years.

The rating is the percentage watching a program among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into the broadcast among those households with TVs on at the time.

Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, covering nearly 70 per cent of the country. Each overnight rating point represents about 735,000 TV homes.

Last year's Winter Classic at the Buffalo Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium drew a 2.6 overnight rating and a 5.0 share on NBC as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Sabres 2-1 in a shootout.

With files from the Associated Press

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