Those who doubt the power of the Capitals' fan base do so at their own peril. We are less than a week removed from Washington's 3-1 over Pittsburgh in the 2011 Winter Classic, and the Caps clearly are on solid ground as the No. 2 franchise in D.C behind the Redskins.

It doesn't hurt that the team is a consistent Stanley Cup contender with one of the world's top players in Alex Ovechkin.

There were about 30,000 Caps fans at Heinz Field on Saturday, and the Winter Classic pulled the highest regular-season TV rating for an NHL broadcast since 1975. But after we look inside the numbers, we really see the drawing power of the Caps.

Of the 10 metered TV markets that had the highest ratings for the Winter Classic, three of them were in the region. As expected, Washington logged in at No. 2 behind Pittsburgh. Baltimore was third, and Richmond was 10th. Put them together, and out of the 4.5 million viewers that NBC scored on New Year's night, nearly a million came from people in the region.

More media, more fans

Now for a team that can use some of the Capitals' marketing advice: the Washington Nationals.

At present, the team is fielding offers for its 2011 radio rights, and I fully expect them to be back on WFED-AM 1500. Also look for the talented, entertaining and popular voices of the Nats, Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler, to return.

The Nationals really need to work Virginia as if they are running for office. That means more radio affiliates and all the full-blown promotion the state can handle. If they can use the media to win over a baseball-crazed area, they will greatly expand the fan base.

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!