The NHL's Winter Classic has become an annual tradition since its inaugural game back in 2008. However, the 2020 edition didn't earn the type of viewership that the league may have wanted.
Earlier this week, the Dallas Stars hosted the Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl and battled back from a two-goal deficit for a 4-2 in front of the second-largest crowd to attend a Winter Classic. On Friday, it was revealed that the game only drew 1.97 million viewers, which is the fewest viewers in the event's history.
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
As Austin Karp of the Sports Business Journal notes, this year's Winter Classic was up against the Citrus Bowl between national college football brands Alabama and Michigan. In addition, Minnesota faced Auburn in the Outback Bowl to potentially take viewers away from the Winter Classic as well.
Previously, the lowest-rated Winter Classic was the 2018 installment between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. In the 3-2 Rangers overtime victory, the Winter Classic drew just 2.43 million viewers.
The 2020 Winter Classic marked the fifth consecutive year that the game had under three million viewers. Prior to 2015, three different Winter Classics drew over four million viewers with the highest being the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
The point can definitely be made that the Winter Classic may have lost some of its luster in recent years. The annual game used to be the only outdoor game during the NHL season, but now that's not the case, with the league adding the Heritage Classic and Stadium Series matchups.
The Minnesota Wild will be hosting the , but it's unclear who they will be facing. Minnesota is a state that is deep in hockey tradition, so perhaps fans will gravitate towards next year's game.