Continued success of NHL outdoor games fuels evolution to include more teams, bigger venues – The Athletic

HAMILTON, Ont. — The weather cooperated.

Swirling winds and light snow created a snow globe effect for fans in the building, as well as picturesque images for viewers on Sportsnet and TNT. More importantly, the match schedule has not been changed.

The weather has been the NHL’s biggest adversary when it comes to outdoor games. Delays caused by sun glare or rain created horror stories of outdoor games, where afternoon games were moved to late evening and an outdoor game became an indoor game because the roof had to be closed.

“That’s the one thing we can’t control,” said NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer. “It’s the thing where you have to hope and pray for the best.”

While many fans in attendance left the Heritage Classic disappointed with the outcome – blame the Toronto Maple Leafs defense and goalie – overall it was another successful away game for the league, capping a box office comeback. closed and frequented by fans. games which, from a commercial point of view, constitute the most important events outside of the playoffs.

This year’s Winter Classic was the coldest game in NHL history, minus 5.7 degrees Fahrenheit on the opening faceoff, and the first outdoor contest under the new contract. nationally televised with Turner. It set cold records and helped reset potential Winter Classic viewership expectations after the setup with NBC.

It was the most-watched NHL regular season game of all time on cable in the United States with 1.4 million viewers, but it was also the least-watched Winter Classic in history. of the event. This was an inherent risk in moving the game from broadcast to cable.

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