Big ratings for Rangers-Flyers Classic

NEW YORK -- The NHL Winter Classic between the host Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers was the fifth-most watched regular-season NHL game in 37 years.

New York's 3-2 victory Monday at Citizens Bank Park, the fifth edition of the outdoor game, averaged 3.74 million viewers to NBC, according to fast national data provided by Nielsen Media Research on Tuesday.

The game produced a 2.1 rating and 4 share, tying the 2010 game. Last year's prime time game had a 2.3 rating and 4 share. The rating this year grew every half hour from 5 p.m. EST until the end of the game.

The 2010 game, featuring the Flyers at Boston's Fenway Park against the Bruins -- the previous Winter Classic played during the afternoon -- was watched by 3.68 million.

Last year's game was postponed into a night game because of rain at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. The matchup between Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby of the Penguins drew 4.5 million viewers, the most-watched, regular-season NHL game since 1975.

This year was the first time the Winter Classic was played on Jan. 2 instead of New Year's Day. The start time was pushed back from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. because of weather conditions.

Philadelphia led all markets with an 11.9 rating and 21 share, almost doubling the 6.0 rating and 11 in 2010, when the Flyers made their first appearance in the Winter Classic.

New York had a 4.3 rating and 9 share on Monday as the Rangers made their Winter Classic debut. That tied Washington for the fifth highest local market rating.