NEW YORK – The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® followed its hockey attendance record by re-writing the record book for regular season North American television viewership as well.
The combined average television viewership for Wednesday afternoon's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on NBC in the U.S., and CBC and RDS in Canada was 8.234 million viewers in North America. The previous best was 6.6 million average viewers for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, which aired in primetime on NBC, CBC and RDS due to a weather delay.
"We knew an NHL Winter Classic at the Big House with the Red Wings-Maple Leafs rivalry would be special, but what unfolded was extraordinary," said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. "The players, the fans – and the elements – made for a record-setting afternoon and our partners at NBC, CBC and RDS delivered great coverage and unforgettable images. The magnitude and success of the overall NHL Winter Classic experience in both Detroit and Ann Arbor also underscore the continued growth of the NHL as a North American business."
The impressive average U.S. viewership total was achieved despite the fact that only one of the participating teams -- the Detroit Red Wings -- represent a U.S. television market. This marked the first time that a Canadian team has played in the NHL Winter Classic.
The numbers for CBC also were record setting. On average, 3.57 million viewers tuned into the CBC telecast. An additional 260,000 viewers watched the French-language telecast on RDS.
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated their Original Six rivals, the Red Wings, in dramatic fashion at the University of Michigan's "Big House." The Leafs won 3-2 in a shootout before 105,491 fans – the largest crowd ever to see a hockey game.