SBD/August 31, 2012/Media

Networks Thinking Of Lockout Contingency Plans As NHL Releases TV Schedule

NBC Sports Group is scheduled to air more than 100 regular-season NHL games
The NHL on Thursday announced the '12-13 season TV schedules for its national partners. NBC Sports Group will air more than 100 games across NBC and NBC Sports Network during the regular season. NBCSN will air NHL games three consecutive nights each week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday nights will be exclusive, and the net will add a second exclusive night on Sundays in January. NBC's coverage launches on Nov. 23, with the Bruins-Rangers '12 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. Meanwhile, NHL Network will televise 78 live games in the U.S. this season. In Canada, the CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada" returns for its 60th season, highlighted by 101 regular-season games. TSN platforms will broadcast 237 regular-season games, its most extensive broadcast package ever. RDS will once again have French-language coverage of all 82 regular-season Canadiens games (NHL).

BACKUP PLANS: In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes the networks on Thursday "were reluctant to talk about the possibility of a lockout." CBC Head of Media Relations Chuck Thompson in an e-mail said, "CBC has contingency plans in place and, like everyone else, we're hoping the season starts on time." He added that the CBC "won't reveal its contingency plans until a lockout is formally announced." McGran notes during the '04-05 lockout, the CBC filled its "HNIC" slot "with movies and poker increased in prominence on Canada's sports networks." York Univ. Sport Marketing Lecturer Vijay Setlur said, "It could be an opportunity for another sport that would otherwise be relegated to a secondary channel to get prime viewing. It may not be doom and gloom from the point of view of quality programming" (TORONTO STAR, 8/31). Meanwhile, NBC Sports Group President of Programming Jon Miller said, "I'm not a big Twitter follower, but I do follow the NHL on Twitter to find out as much as I can about the situation. It's very important for us for the two sides to come together and for the season to start on time. The NHL is our most important property. To not have a start of the season would be tough on us." Miller added that the net is "examining contingency programming." He said, "There are a lot of things we're looking at. We're having conversations with groups. We're looking in-house. You never know. It's a hard position to be in" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 8/30).
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