According to NBC Public Relations, Tuesday's Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks drew a 1.94 overnight rating, which is the best rating for the event in four years.
The game was played at historic Notre Dame Stadium and went down to the wire, with both teams tied heading into the third. The game was as back and forth as one could get. The game-winner came off the stick of Bruins center Sean Kuraly late in the third period.
Boston led all markets for Tuesday's Winter Classic with a 7.9, which was third-best for market for a regular-season game on NBC. Following up behind the hub was Providence (6.5), Chicago (5.8), and Buffalo, Hartford, and Las Vegas tied for fourth (3.4).
The 1.94 rating for the game is up 17% from last year's Winter Classic with the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. That game drew a 1.88.
According to Sports Media Watch, the 2016 Winter Classic between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens drew a measly 1.6, as it was involved in the drop in ratings over the past four years. By the same metrics, the 2010 Winter Classic between the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers drew a 2.1 and a whopping 14.4 in Boston.
The numbers are a good start to 2019 for the NHL, who also announced next season's Winter Classic will be played in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl between the Dallas Stars and a team to be named later.
What this should scream to the NHL is that the history of the venues matter most. The two highest rated Winter Classics were in 2009 at Wrigley Field and in 2014 at Michigan Stadium. Fenway Park in 2010 and Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008 rank right behind those two.
It seems as though this year's event at Notre Dame Stadium was a saving grace for the NHL and its most notable regular season game.