Ratings Roundup: NHL Winter Classic Dips Slightly But Still Dominates; Rose, Sugar, Orange Bowls Post Record Lows

Despite a dip from last year, the NHL Winter Classic continued to cement itself as a ratings monster on Monday, averaging in 3.74 million viewers and a 2.1/4 rating/share. The annual outdoor event was held on Jan. 2 for the first time to avoid directly competing with the NFL on New Years Day. Although the Rangers 3-2 shootout victory over the Flyers was the second lowest rated in the event’s five-year history, it still marked the fifth-most watched NHL game since 1975. The 2012 Classic was down 9% in ratings and 17% in viewership from last year, when the Capitals-Penguins game was pushed into primetime due to weather and earned a record-setting 2.3 rating and 4.525 million viewers. This year’s installment was almost even with 2010, the last time the Classic aired in the afternoon, when the Flyers and Bruins logged a 2.1 rating with 3.684 million viewers. Philadelphia led all markets with an 11.9/21 rating, almost doubling the 6.0/11 rating the market produced for the Flyers 2010 appearance in the Classic…

The BCS Championship Series is underway, here are the early ratings returns:

Final numbers for the Sugar and Orange Bowls have not been released yet, but early indications are not good, as both posted the lowest overnights in their respective histories and two of three lowest in the history of the BCS. Tuesday’s #13 Michigan/#11 Virginia Tech Orange Bowl earned a mere 6.3 overnight rating – the third worst in BCS history – while Wednesday’s #23 West Virginia/#15 Clemson Orange Bowl blowout earned a 4.5 overnight rating – by far the worst in BCS history. The two games bookend the 2009 Orange Bowl (VT/CIN: 5.9, FOX) as the three worst overnights in the history of the BCS.

The Rose Bowl earned a 10.2 U.S. rating and 17.558 million viewers on ESPN on Jan. 2, marking the lowest rated game in the history of the Grandaddy of them all. Oregon’s win over Wisconsin was down 10% in ratings and 15% in viewership from last year (TCU/WISC: 11.3, 20.558M). The game was moved off of its normal New Years Day slot to avoid direct NFL competition and, not coincidentally, the previous low was a 10.8 for the 1989 game, which also aired on January 2. This marks just the second time dating back to the 1985-86 season that the Rose Bowl has failed to attract at least 11% of U.S. television homes. Despite the record low numbers, Monday’s game ranks as the third-most viewed non-NFL program in cable television history. Only last year’s Rose Bowl and BCS National Championship Game earned better numbers.

The Fiesta Bowl faired better that evening, earning an 8.4 U.S. rating and 13.684 million viewers on ESPN— up 35% in ratings and 26% in viewership from last year (OKLA/CONN: 6.2, 10.819M). This marks the highest rated Fiesta Bowl since 2009 (TEX/OSU: 10.4), but the third-least viewed of the past decade.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive breakdown of the College Bowl season ratings breakdown in the Ratings Roundup on Tuesday, Jan. 6.