Happy New Year!
The NHL's Winter Classic is today. It is very difficult for sports leagues to add something into their regular season that gives them great media exposure. The NHL has done that in this case. The success of this game can be attributed to two factors.
1) An appealing gimmick that will bring in fans that otherwise would not be interested. This factor is pretty obvious.
2) An opening on the calender to take advantage of the gimmick. The NHL benefited in this case from the BCS. 25 years ago having this game on New Year's Day would not have worked because the bowls would have sucked up all of the oxygen. But with the extension of bowl season a week into January, the 1st has room for a big hockey game. If the NHL could not put the game on New Year's, I am not sure there would have been another optimal time given the competition of the NFL playoffs and that an outdoor hockey game would not work in October.