CBC reported on Friday that the outdoor game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., had 3.57 million viewers on average. That’s the largest audience in “Hockey Night In Canada” history for an NHL non-playoff game. The peak audience was 5.3 million for the start of the third round of the shootout; overall, the game reached 8.75 million Canadians overall.
If you combine the CBC, RDS and NBC audiences, the Winter Classic was watched by an average of 8.234 million viewers in North America. That breaks the 2011 Winter Classic mark of 6.6 million set by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin (and some other dudes) at Heinz Field.
The final numbers in the U.S., from NBC:
The 2.5 rating (1:00-4:53 p.m. ET) ties the 2009 NHL Winter Classic, which was played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field between the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings and host Chicago Blackhawks, as the highest-rated NHL regular-season game since 1975. The game averaged 4.404 million viewers, ranking as the second-most watched NHL regular-season game in 39 years, behind only the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, which was played in primetime due to a weather delay from Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Via NBC, here are some viewership numbers for the Winter Classic through the years: