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Winter Classic Draws Lowest Ratings in Game's History

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    Fans cheer as the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Washington Capitals in the 2015 NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park on Jan. 1, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

    Before the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals, there was a decided lack of buzz about the game, and that indifference translated into some low ratings numbers for the game on Thursday afternoon.

    The game drew a 2.3 overnight rating according to NBC, which is the lowest number in the eight-year history of the game. Last year’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings drew a 2.9 overnight rating, as did the 2009 game between the Red Wings and Blackhawks at Wrigley Field.

    Part of the reason for the low number was the Washington market not delivering in the ratings department. While Chicago was the top-rated Winter Classic market with an 11.4 (the game was the most watched program in the Windy City during the timeslot), Washington D.C. ended up clocking in with a 5.7, which was good for third nationally but wasn’t all that great considering that it was hosting the game.

    Sure, ticket demand was off the charts, and the game will generate a ton of revenue for the league, but if there’s one thing that the ratings numbers can tell us, it’s that the league needs to find a way to get a more buzzworthy matchup next season for the game.