And now it's official: the NHL's 2011 Winter Classic will be a primetime treat.
CBS Sports' Wes Goldstein tweets that the NHL has announced that Winter Classic will begin at 8 p.m. on NHL Network.
On NHL Network, Dep. Comissioner Bill Daly says Winter Classic start time moved back to 8 p.m.
This will be the first primetime game in the short history of the Winter Classic, and it should be poised to do great ratings. The two teams in the game — the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals — are very good, and carry brand names that make them recognizable to the average sports fan. (Those brands have only been burnished by HBO's fantastic 24/7 series leading up to this game.)
Plus, moving this game from its previous 1 p.m. start might dodge college football games like the Outback Bowl that would siphon away regional audience (Penn State takes on Florida in that game) and the Rose Bowl, which pits Wisconsin against TCU in a good matchup for casual fans.
It may be inconvenient, but NBC and the NHL can't be terribly displeased with this postponement.