The broadcast appeal of the NHL’s Winter Xlassic continues to plunge. This years event, which featured the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators, was the least-watched in the 12-year history of the event.
Predators-Stars was least-watched NHL Winter Classic yet (1.97 million viewers). Previous low was 2.43 million for Rangers-Sabres in 2018. Tough competition from strong Bama-Michigan Citrus Bowl on ABC (that drew 14 million viewers).
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) January 3, 2020
According to Sports Media Watch, the Stars’ win declined 29% in ratings and 33% in viewership from last year (Bruins-Blackhawks: 1.6, 2.95M) and 19% and 21% respectively from the previous lows set in 2018 (Rangers-Bruins: 1.4, 2.48M). Including streaming, the game averaged 1.97 million.
The drop in numbers continues a dubious trend for the event. With the exception of last years game Between the Blackhawks and Bruins at Norte Dame, which saw a 1.94 rating, the event has seen a steep decline in viewership since 2014.
The event, which drew more than 85,000 fans to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, continues relatively strong appeal in the local markets, further indicating that the game is becoming more of a local event.
Attendance at the 2020 event was the second-largest in the history of the event, with 2014’s Winter Classic at the “Big House” in Ann Arbor, Michigan, holding the record at 104,591.
Even with the lower numbers, the Winter Classic remains the dominant draw of the NHL season. This year’s game outdrew every indoor NHL regular season window since the opening day of the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
By Jon Sorensen