Lowest rated Winter Classic in 5-year history

After NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Monday’s Winter Classic “perfect,” the NHL and NBC had to be a little disappointed with the return on national television ratings.

According to the overnight ratings, the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park was the lowest rated game in the five-year history of the event.

The one caveat, of course, is that this was the only Winter Classic to not be held on New Year’s Day, as the NHL chose to focus on its legal holiday equivalent to not go head-to-head with the NFL on Jan. 1. That focus didn’t exactly pan out.

Here is how it stacks up, according to Sports Business Daily:

2012 - Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park - 3 o’clock start: 2.4 overnight rating (Jan. 2)
2011 - Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field - 7 o’clock start: 2.8 overnight rating
2010 - Boston’s Fenway Park - 1 o’clock start: 2.6 overnight rating
2009 - Chicago’s Wrigley Field - 1 o’clock start (Eastern time): 2.9 overnight rating
2008 - Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium - 1 o’clock start: 2.6 overnight rating

Comparatively, the Outback Bowl on ABC drew a 5.0 rating and the Rose Bowl on ESPN captured a 9.0 audience last night.

To put it in perspective, those Winter Classic ratings are roughly double what a normal, nationally-televised regular season game would produce.

Local ratings - and ratings in non-hockey markets - have not yet been released.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers