Began in 2008 in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic is an annual event that is held outdoors in a football or baseball stadium. Since the first game, a total of six games have been played except during the conflict between owners and players. The 2015 Winter Classic game is scheduled between Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals.
The outdoor game came into being due to the success of the Canada’s 2003 Heritage Classic. Now it is an annual tradition for the NHL and held only in the United States. The other premier event for NHL is its All Star Game. The Winter Classic generates higher attendance and its TV coverage is also generates higher audience than for regular NHL games. It has been a rating success for the NBC that broadcast the Winter Classic on TV. Over the years ratings and attendance of the Winter Classic only rivaled the Stanley Cup. The Winter Classic is also helping the game to be popularized among college and university levels. Ratings for the Winter Classic in Canada are no way near its success in the US. Canadians prefer their Hockey Night in Canada over the Winter Classic.