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01-07-2011, 05:30 PM
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A Fistful of Dollars
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This article references some of the issues we discussed earlier in the thread including other events on 1-1-2012 and a possible move to night. As mentioned, Keith Jones said there were issues regarding the lights reflecting off the ice surface.

The NHL and NBC should take it as an encouraging sign that a hockey game delayed seven hours by rain ended up as the most-watched regular-season game in 36 years. But whether that is a harbinger of future ratings success is as cloudy as the Pittsburgh sky.

We’re referring to the Winter Classic, of course, which was postponed New Year’s Day from 1 to 8 p.m. because of rain in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals.

The waterlogged surface at Heinz Field practically put a literal twist on the network’s desired “pond hockey’’ vibe, yet the 4.5 million viewers — most since 5.5 million watched the Rangers take on the Flyers in 1975 — were left with nothing but warm (and dry) sentiments.

The Winter Classic is just four years old, and yet the numbers — a 2.3 rating and 4 share this time, up from last year’s 2.1 and 4 for Flyers-Bruins at Fenway Park — confirm that it has become a New Year’s Day tradition.

There is no denying that NBC was helped by the time change. It also benefited from going up against a bowl game on ESPN that proved anticlimactic: Oklahoma’s 48-20 rout of Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl.

Because the game fell on a Saturday, it was relatively simple to clear a prime-time window. Had it been a weeknight, the jurisdiction on bumping prime-time programming would have belonged to the entertainment side of NBC at least as much as the sports side. It’s fair to presume they’d rule in favor of, say, Tina Fey over Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Whether the NHL and/or NBC will consider moving the Winter Classic to prime time remains to be seen. But it’s worth noting that there are more than a couple of obstructions en route to any permanent change.

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