One of the underlying stories of the 2015 Winter Classic was how the game generated little buzz. The matchup between the Blackhawks and Washington Capitals pitted two teams with little history against each other, in a ballpark that only evokes memories of presidents racing each other around the diamond.
And as it turned out, the lack of buzz translated to a mediocre audience for NBC. Thursday’s 2.3 rating is the lowest in the history of the Classic, replacing the 2012 game between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers as the least-watched.
As you’d expect, Chicago viewers gobbled up what was a 3-2 loss to the Capitals. So did folks in Washington, albeit not at the same level.
— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) January 2, 2015
That, however, is the end of the good news for the game. That 2.3 rating is down from last year when the Toronto Maple Leafs played the Detroit Red Wings at famed Michigan Stadium, drawing a 2.9 rating.
So, what’s the problem? Does the game need a complete reboot? Perhaps teams that aren’t the Blackhawks or in the Eastern Conference?
Or maybe it was the competition. The English Premier League played a full slate of games, not to mention the debut of the College Football Playoff and a load of second-tier bowls, all of which could have taken eyes from the Classic.
Regardless, the 2015 Winter Classic was a memorable game for those who watched it. Which, unfortunately for NBC and the NHL, wasn’t a lot of people.